Car manufacturers have this year again descended on CES, with the integration of smart technology into vehicles ramping up.A range of tech has been on display, from the connected car to autonomous vehicles, providing a preview of the future of the car industry.
Among a host of announcements from Ford, the car manufacturer has advised that it is this year tripling its fleet of Fusion Hybrid autonomous research vehicles.
Ford will add 20 Fusion Hybrid autonomous
vehicles to its program, bringing its autonomous fleet to about 30
vehicles being tested in California, Arizona and Michigan.
Part of Ford Smart Mobility – the company’s plan to take it to the next level in connectivity, mobility, autonomous vehicles, the customer experience, and data and analytics – Ford states the vehicles will employ a new-generation sensor technology.
Ford is using Velodyne’s newest LiDAR sensors, Solid-State Hybrid Ultra Puck Auto, on its third-generation autonomous vehicle platform, featuring a longer range of 200 metres, which Ford states makes them the first auto-specific LiDAR sensors capable of handling different driving scenarios.
“Ultra Puck will accelerate the development and validation of Ford’s virtual driver software, which serves as the decision-making brain that directs vehicle systems,” Ford states.
Among the company’s other announcements, Ford has advised that it is developing ways to pair its Sync-equipped vehicles with home automation devices or smart home products, working to integrate Sync Connect and Amazon Echo, providing voice control access between the car and home.
Under the initiative, drivers could access internet-enabled devices, such as lights, home security systems, TVs and garage doors, Ford states.
Linking vehicles with the Amazon cloud-based voice service Alexa, users would also be able to access their vehicle from inside their home, and, using Amazon Echo, a hands-free speaker and voice command device interfacing with Alexa, request assistance with various functions of their car.
Ford is also working with the Wink smart home platform, with compatibility with Sync AppLink enabling Wink users to control and automate their smart home device on the dashboard of their car or through voice control.
As noted by BMW’s Klaus Frohlich “cars are already becoming an integral part of the Internet of Things”, with BMW taking the opportunity to present the BMW i Vision Future Interaction concept vehicle, based on the BMW i8 Concept Spyder at CES.
BMW states it has introduced the vehicle “to show what the user interface of the future might look like –
including support from high-resolution vehicle displays where the content responds to the situation”.
“In order to make the interaction of the passengers with the vehicle as intuitive as possible, all functions are controlled using touch-sensitive surfaces, gestures and voice,” BMW states.
Frohlich stated BMW has asked: “What will the future of ‘sheer driving pleasure’ look like?”
“The answer does not lie in any single solution,” he commented. “It takes a smart combination of different concepts and offerings.
“For this reason, we developed a personalised digital companion for our customers. We call it BMW Connected – an intelligent approach, which organises our customers’ mobility in a flexible and simple way.”
BMW Connected, based on an Open Mobility Cloud, connects personal data, physical devices and services to create a new customer experience, processing data and information from various sources.
The system also learns from the user’s behaviour, habits and preferences, delivering customised options, with each ride “therefore safer, more convenient and more entertaining”.
Frohlich additionally noted another aspect of BMW’s vision for the future is “how the interior can enhance sheer driving pleasure”, creating a space for communication and interaction.
Audi has been exhibiting an interior model at the CES, demonstrating a human-machine interface concept featuring large AMOLED displays with integrated haptic feedback.
“The interior of the future will radically alter the way our customers operate and experience things in the vehicle,” Ricky Hudi, Audi executive vice president electronic development, commented.
“We are developing our successful Audi virtual cockpit into the Audi virtual dashboard and creating an entirely new world of experience for our customers. In the future, the entire system will get to know the customer and their habits and preferences, then proactively support them.”
Audi states that the new type of multi-media interface (MMI) control with MMI touch response “recognises familiar touch gestures from the consumer electronics world and adapts them to the special operating environment in the automobile”, with smart devices capable of being “seamlessly connected”.
Behind the new concept is the next generation of Audi’s Modular Infotainment Platform, MIB2+, prepared for LTE Advanced.
Audi has also been growing its range of connected services, with the smartphone app Audi MMI connect offering vehicle-specific remote services, offering drivers such functionality as displaying the location of their car on their smartphone.
In another development, Audi states the Audi VR experience will allow customers to virtually experience a car wearing a virtual reality headset at a car dealership.