2020 CES Archive

  • BMW i Interaction EASE concept shown at CES 2020 – elements from design study to be in production iNEXT

    Autonomous driving looms large at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2020 taking place in Las Vegas, and BMW stakes its entry with the i Interaction EASE concept which ‘offers a glimpse into a future where autonomous driving has become commonplace’, the German automaker said.

    The concept here has been given a deliberately abstract exterior in order to focus attention on its interior, which is aimed at giving its passengers the feeling of having already arrived at their destination when they are still en route. The key feature of the i Interaction EASE concept is the gaze detection system, which offers passengers relevant information when they set their gaze upon an object outside the vehicle.

    The materials, geometry and technology in cabin of the i Interaction EASE have been geared squared to the passenger, says BMW, with particular emphasis placed on ‘natural interaction with an intelligent autonomous vehicle’. To that end, the concept employs interaction forms already familiar from current BMW production models, such as touch control, gesture control and natural speech for conversing with the BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant.

    The concept’s artificial intelligence uses its gaze-sensing to browse the space around the user and around the vehicle, while pointing motions can be used to pick a selection for more information. This chosen for of interaction draws from the way people talk to one another, says BMW, in the way the person’s gaze determines who or what is the subject of the conversation, or the meaning of what is being said.

    In order for this interaction to be as natural as possible, the acoustic and visual signals received from a host of sensors are processed according to the driving situation, time and location as well as vehicle signals, instead of requiring the user to learn specific commands beforehand.

    For example, it is possible to obtain information from the context of the passengers’ field of view when their gaze is cast on a restaurant or a cinema, for example. The concept’s Panorama Head-Up Display spans the width of the windscreen, and serves as the focal point of the occupant cabin. By superimposing a digital layer over the view of the outside world, an augmented-reality user interface is formed.

    The windscreen can then provide further information on the users’ surroundings and the situation at hand, and harnesses 5G network connectivity to inform the occupants of the surrounding buildings, businesses and other objects. Certainly, there are various modes in which users can interact with the vehicle.

    The first of three modes, Explore shifts focus to the area surrounding the vehicle. Augmented reality technology is used to superimpose information on the display so that passengers see it both in their line of sight, as well as in the correct position for their view of the outside world. Focusing their gaze on the superimposed data brings up further information, and another confirming gesture summons the next interaction level.

    The in-car experience is emphasised in the Entertain mode, where the surfaces at the sides, or windows, are darkened to obscure the outside world and the full-width display can be used for watching movies, for instance. Ambient lighting creates a theatre-like experience, says BMW, adding emphasis to the entertainment aspect of the concept.

    When a more tranquil setting is desired, the third, Ease mode brings a sense of calm and relaxation, BMW says. Intelligent material serves as a control surface and can move the seats into a ‘zero-gravity’ position, which aims to give its occupants a sense of floating in mid-air. The Intelligent Personal Assistant darkens the Panorama Head-Up Display and makes the sides opaque, while adding soft ambient lighting and ‘a harmonious composition of pleasant sounds’.

    A selection of the natural interaction gesture functions showcased in the i Interaction EASE concept is set to be realised in when the BMW iNEXT arrives on the market, according to the automaker. The marque’s next fully electric SUV is tipped to have a range of 580 km on the WLTP test cycle, and its considerable size means it calls for a battery capacity of 100 kWh or more. The production iNEXT is also said to be launched with Level 3 autonomous driving.

     
     
  • Honda Augmented Driving Concept – reinventing the steering wheel for varying autonomous driving modes

    It takes a shift in perspective to live with autonomous vehicles, and with this in mind Honda has introduced the Augmented Driving Concept for the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2020 to ‘address the cultural transition to autonomous vehicles’, the automaker said. Users will be able to enjoy mobility in new ways when no longer tasked with the responsibilities of driving, says Honda, though they may still want to experience ‘the emotion and thrill of driving’.

    The Augmented Driving Concept aims to feature a seamless transition between autonomous and semi-autonomous driving operations, and the autonomous driving system remains constantly on standby in order to take over and control the vehicle when needed, says Honda.

    Changing modes between automatic and manual mode is done with a switch, while the system features ‘more than eight modes’ between fully autonomous and semi-autonomous operation, according to Honda. To support its autonomous capabilities, the Augmented Driving Concept employs various sensors to continuously read the user’s intentions in order to smoothly transition between drive modes.

    Honda has also offered its take on the steering wheel with the Augmented Driving Concept. Here, patting the steering wheel twice starts the vehicle, and the steering wheel is also employed for accelerating and decelerating the car; pull back on the steering wheel and the car slows down, while pushing forward on it picks up speed.

    Honda has not indicated if the Augmented Driving Concept features electric drive or internal combustion, though similarities to the Honda e hatchback in its front-end styling suggests it has been designed with an EV platform in mind. For reference, the electric hatchback features a rear axle-mounted motor with outputs of either 136 PS or 154 PS and maximum torque of 315 Nm; at its unveiling in Germany, the Honda e was priced from 29,470 euros (RM136,108) for the 136 PS version.

    GALLERY: Honda e at 2019 Frankfurt Motor Show

     
     
  • Mercedes-Benz Vision AVTR debuts at CES – Avatar-inspired concept offers a sci-fi glimpse of the future

    Mercedes-Benz has unveiled its Vision AVTR concept at the 2020 Consumer Electronic Show (CES) in Las Vegas. The radical-looking is not just inspired by James Cameron’s sci-fi blockbuster, Avatar, it has been designed in collaboration with those behind the film, and the result is a vehicle aiming to show what mobility in the distant future might well look like.

    With its stretched “One Bow” design and organic design language, the AVTR has a general shape reminiscent of the F 015 study from half a decade ago, but that’s about the only commonality. Flowing and fluid, this one takes its design cues from several creatures in the movie, combining inside and outside into a distinctive, emotional structure.

    Design elements include 33 “bionic flaps” on the back of the vehicle, which the company says is reminiscent of scales of reptiles. These can communicate with the driver, and through the driver with their outside world, through naturally flowing movements in subtle gestures.

    The all-electric Vision AVTR is equipped with four individually-controlled, high-performance electric motors, with a combined engine power of more than 350 kW. These motors feature fully variable torque distribution, meaning that each wheel can be driven separately and depending on the driving situation.

    This, the company says, makes it possible to drive the front and rear axles simultaneously or in opposite ways, giving the car the novelty of being able to move sideways by approximately 30 degrees, essentially in crab-like fashion, which allows the vehicle flexibility of movement in congested traffic or tight spaces.

    Power is stored in a high-voltage battery featuring graphene-based organic cell chemistry, which makes the unit rare earth and metal free and 100% recyclable through composting. Despite being anywhere far from production reality, the numbers running off the unit sounds mouth-watering – the 110 kWh capacity unit will provide 700 km of travel range as well as full recharging in less than 15 minutes.

    The open cabin contains plenty of thought-provoking concepts, especially in user experience (UX) interface. These include a biometric vehicle start-up process involving placement of the hand on the control unit on the centre console, the car activating itself upon recognising the driver by his or her heartbeat and breathing.

    The interface adapts to the user. By simply lifting the hand, a menu selection is projected onto the palm of the hand, through which the passenger can intuitively choose between different functionalities, including sound elements.

    Real-time 3D graphics can be used to explore surroundings from different perspectives, with the curved display module creating a visual connection between passengers and the outside world.

    Elsewhere, the seats – which are dressed in vegan Dinamica microfibre – make the surroundings around the vehicle experienceable through haptic feedback, courtesy of eight exciters within the unit. Vibrations adapted to the situation transmit information in a non-visual way and make objects noticeable.

    The control unit, meanwhile, is a multi-functional interface used to control the AVTR, either by the driver’s or from the passenger seat. It can be raised or lowered by a short tap if necessary, making it only visible when it is needed.

    Depending on the mood and vitality of the driver, the car offers driving options beyond autonomous – if the control unit is driven up to half, the driver can influence the speed, while completely lifting the steering provides full control of the vehicle.

    Those with families will find the Child Connect function a boon. When the car senses that family travel is involved, it connects the front seats to the rear seats, and serves up monitors can be used to keep tabs on the kids in the rear.

    There’s also a “Magic Pool,” a cute way to describe rear seat display screens. Here, they offer the young ones learning-oriented gaming and a child-friendly augmented reality experience of the surroundings to ensure they never get bored while on the road. A lot of imagination then from this one, but one wonders, how much of it will shape up in future reality.

     
     
  • Qualcomm announces Snapdragon Ride Platform for Level 1 to Level 5 autonomous systems at CES 2020

    Computer chip maker Qualcomm announced the latest addition to its automotive products line-up, the Snapdragon Ride Platform at the 2020 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. The Snapdragon Ride Platform consists of the Snapdragon Ride Safety system-on-chips (SoCs), Snapdragon Ride Safety Accelerator and Snapdragon Ride Autonomous Stack.

    This platform has been designed to scale across all levels of autonomous driving, says Qualcomm, namely Level 1 and Level 2 active driver assistance systems which comprise autonomous emergency braking, lane keeping assist and traffic sign recognition, Level 2+ advanced driver assistance systems which feature automated highway driving, self-parking and urban driving in stop-start traffic, and Levels 4 and 5 for fully autonomous urban driving, robo-taxis and robo-logistics.

    A high-performance, centralised computing system typically consumes a lot of power and consequently generates a lot of heat which requires additional heat management systems such as liquid cooling, which adds costs and complexity. The Snapdragon Ride Platform takes care of that, says Qualcomm, which ranges from 30 tera operations per second (TOPS) in Level 1-2 applications to more than 700 TOPS in Level 4-5 autonomous driving.

    The efficiency of the Snapdragon Ride Platform therefore means it can be used in designs which are cooled passively or air-cooled, saving cost and increasing reliability by avoiding the need for liquid-cooling systems, thus making vehicle designs simpler, lighter and more efficient as a result.

    Overall, the new chip platform has twice the efficiency of older architectures, says Qualcomm. Snapdragon Ride will be made available for development to automakers and Tier-1 suppliers in the first half of this year, ZDNet reports.

    The company also introduced the new car-to-cloud service at this time, a service which enables the upkeep of vehicle software with over-the-air (OTA) updates. Designed for the Snapdragon Automotive Cockpit platform and Snapdragon Automotive 4G and 5G platforms, the car-to-cloud service will keep telematics systems up to date. The car-to-cloud service is planned for market debut in 2020, the report added.

     
     
  • Nissan shows lightweight sound insulation at CES ’20

    It may not look like it, but this translucent, almost holographic material Susumu Miura is holding up could change the way cars sound like in the future.

    Miura is an advanced material engineer at Nissan, and he has helped develop a new acoustic meta-material that is being showcased by the Japanese carmaker at the ongoing Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. It is comprised of a lattice structure covered by plastic film and works by reflecting wide frequency band noise (500 to 1,200 hertz), such as road and wind noise – limiting their transmission into the cabin.

    The result is a material said to provide the same level of sound deadening as the rubber boards traditionally used as insulation, but at one-fourth the weight. Its simple structure also allows cost competitiveness to be on par or possibly better than that of existing materials, meaning that it can be applied in vehicles where the use of regular sound insulation is limited due to cost or weight.

    The development of this meta-material is particularly significant as the world relies more and more on electric propulsion. The absence of a loud internal combustion engine makes other noises in a car even more prominent, which currently can only be countered by adding heavy insulation – not good when you’re chasing every last mile of range on your electric vehicle.

    As such, the use of the new material can significantly improve the comfort of an EV, whilst also helping it deliver greater energy efficiency. Nissan began its research on meta-material technology in 2008, at a time when the tech was used in high-sensitivity antennas for electromagnetic wave research. It worked to extend the application of said tech to include sound waves, leading to the invention of the acoustic meta-material.

     
     
  • Sony Vision-S concept car unveiled at CES 2020; dual-motor powertrain, provision for Level 4 self-driving

    Sony has unveiled a concept car at the 2020 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, dubbed the Vision-S. The electric prototype incorporates the Japanese electronics firm’s imaging and sensing technologies, while Sony’s own artificial intelligence, telecommunication and cloud computing technologies enable the continued updating and evolution of the vehicle’s features, says Sony.

    The Vision-S follows the current automotive trend in using a modular platform which enables its application across various bodystyles; Sony says this includes coupes, sedans, SUVs and MPVs. Without going into specific detail, the company says that the vehicle is ‘designed with the goal of acquiring top scores in automobile safety tests around the world’.

    In terms of dimensions, the Vision-S measures 4,895 mm long with a 3,000 mm wheelbase, 1,900 mm wide and 1,450 mm tall. For comparison, the Tesla Model S measures 4,980 mm long with a 2,960 mm wheelbase, 1,964 mm wide (excluding mirrors) and 1,440 mm tall.

    The Vision-S is suspended by air springs on a double-wishbone configuration front and rear, and rolling stock is a set of 21-inch wheels shod in 245/40 and 275/35 tyres front and rear, respectively, and brakes are by Brembo. The concept EV tips the scales at 2,350 kg according to Sony, while motive power is from a pair of 200 kW electric motors; one on each axle for a 400 kW (536 hp) total. Thus equipped, 0-100 km/h is attained in 4.8 seconds, and top speed is 240 km/h.

    Sony has not detailed battery capacity, range or charger connections, however a screenshot of the driver’s instrumentation from an official video (embedded below) indicates range of at least 284 miles, or 454 km. The company also states that the Vision-S is a prototype intended to illustrate ‘future concepts in the area of mobility’.

    At its unveiling at CES 2020, Sony CEO Kenichiro Yoshida specifically thanked Magna Steyr for its engineering help with designing the concept, The Drive reports; the Austrian engineering firm manufactures various models, among them the Toyota Supra and BMW Z4. A presentation slide from the event also reveals other partners in the development to include Bosch, Continental, and Nvidia, the report noted.

    The Vision-S showcases the ‘Safety Cocoon’ safe-zone concept of active safety by detecting situations all around the vehicle in order to evade risk well ahead of time, says Sony. This is facilitated by a suite of 33 automotive-grade sensors installed on the car’s exterior as well as interior, comprised of 12 cameras, 17 ultrasonic and radar sensors, as well as three solid-state lidar sensors.

    These enable 360-degree recognition of traffic conditions, and provide driving assistance such as advanced cruise control, self-parking and automatic lane-change functions which correspond to Level 2 driver assistance, says Sony. Software updates allow for continual upgrading, and ultimately will enable self-driving at Level 4 and above in the future, the company added; more on autonomous driving levels, here.

    Here on the Vision-S, cameras and display screens take the place of conventional mirrors, and the three displays can be aligned to the driver’s preference; for example, the central mirror can display the view from both sides of the vehicle. Glare from the lights of vehicles behind are taken care of by HDR and other signal processing technology to ensure the appropriate brightness and clarity.

    Inside, sensors will also monitor the facial expressions and body movements of the driver in order to gauge concentration and fatigue levels, and send alerts as necessary. The onboard systems will adjust cabin temperature according to the conditions and how the occupants are feeling. For example, the car will adjust climate control if it detects a sleeping passenger, and continue to learn preferred settings for climate, music, driver modes, routes and other preferences each time occupants come aboard.

    With autonomous driving technologies in place, Sony aims to create a ‘mobile entertainment space’ within the Vision-S to surround its occupants with sounds from object-based spatial technology Sony calls 360 Reality Audio. The aural experience is based around speakers installed within the car’s seats, which then work with other speakers within the Vision-S cabin to create a personalised sound in any of the four seats in the car.

    The visual component of the cabin experience comes courtesy of a panoramic screen which spans the width of the Vision-S dashboard, here seen in three segments for the driver, front passenger and overall infotainment respectively, bookended by the side camera display screens. It isn’t completely dominated by screens; the occupants of the Vision-S will access content on the screens via a jog dial which enables control over content even if the occupant has chosen to recline their seat, says Sony.

    Connectivity and integration comes in the form of Vision-S Link, which coordinates the Vision-S with multiple mobile devices and cars. This harnesses the car’s self-driving capabilities and enables the driver to summon the car the his or her present location, and a map displayed on the driver’s mobile device will be automatically synced to the car’s panoramic screen as soon as they board.

    Likewise, music that is playing on one’s mobile device will automatically continue within the car when the user embarks. The systems aboard the Vision-S are to be continually updated over-the-air, where cloud-based artificial intelligence enables the car to become even more intelligent and adaptive over time.

    It doesn’t particularly sound like Sony will put the Vision-S into full production reality, as the firm said that the EV concept is meant to be a showcase of what’s possible in the latest evolution of safety, comfort, entertainment and adaptability. What do you think, dear readers? Will this remain a concept, or could the Vision-S turn out to be a production car that becomes available for sale?

     
     
  • Bosch showcases Virtual Visor concept at CES 2020

    Bosch has unveiled its innovation for the humble yet crucial sun visor, the Virtual Visor at this year’s edition of the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. The conventional item is a solid object which blocks some sun glare, although it also blocks some of the driver’s view along with it; Bosch has aimed to get around the problem with a transparent LCD panel and a camera.

    The LCD panel is linked to the camera which tracks the sun-casted shadow on the driver’s face, and the system employs artificial intelligence to locate landmarks on the driver’s face such as the nose, mouth and most crucially, the eyes. The programme calculates the driver’s view, darkening the section of the panel through which sunlight is cast on the driver’s eyes. The rest of the panel stays transparent to allow clear vision.

    “We discovered early in the development that users adjust their traditional sun visors to always cast a shadow on their own eyes. This realisation was profound in helping simplify the product concept and fuel the design of the technology,” said Virtual Visor co-creator and technical expert for Bosch in North America, Jason Zink.

    “For most drivers around the world, the visor component as we know it is not enough to avoid hazardous sun glare – especially at dawn and dusk when the sun can greatly decrease drivers’ vision. Some of the simplest innovations make the greatest impact, and Virtual Visor changes the way drivers see the road,” said president of Bosch Car Multimedia Steffen Burns.

    The Virtual Visor is a bottom-up solution enabled by the innovation culture at Bosch, from the original ideation and concept phase through to testing and prototyping, a process which sees lean startup methodologies applied to confirm customer benefits, market potential and feasibility for new ideas, which are then validated by peers and approved for development, the company says.

    In the case of developing the Virtual Visor, this goes towards preventing and mitigating accidents due to temporary blindness caused by glare, which accounts for more than twice as many accidents as any other weather-related condition, says Bosch, and the risk of car crashes is 16% greater than during normal weather, according to the US National Library of Medicine.

     
     
  • Fisker Ocean revealed at CES 2020 – electric SUV with up to 480 km range, California Mode, karaoke feature

    Having revived the Fisker brand with the EMotion a couple of years ago, Fisker Inc is now pushing ahead with its first mass-market electric SUV, the Ocean. So named because many of its components have been recycled from items pulled from the ocean, the car will be shown at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), which officially kicks off tomorrow in Las Vegas.

    As is the norm these days, the Ocean is a mid-sized crossover with seating for five, and as you’d expect from a company headed by notable car designer Henrik Fisker, it’s a heavily stylised take on the type. It’s a fairly clean design with large squared-off wheel arches, slim head- and tail lights and a shallow roofline, with the only prominent ornamentation being the rather large lower grille.

    This grille sits under a downturned moustache of sorts, which also carries the front indicators. Speaking of which, the discrete rear indicators are positioned in the D-pillars aft of the window line kink; the company says this enables lorry drivers to see those indicators better.

    The minimalist theme continues inside, where you’ll find two screens (three if you count the head-up display) – a small instrument display and a large Tesla-style portrait touchscreen. The centre console that houses the latter is bent at the lower edge, where the gear selector and five physical toggle switches are located.

    All the materials are said to be “vegan”, including polycarbonate and polyurethane surfaces, rayon backing and recycled carpeting made from the nylon of abandoned fishing nets. Dinamica microfibre is also utilised as a substitute for suede leather, as is discarded rubber waste from tyre manufacturing.

    Neat touches include what Fisker calls a California Mode, in which the side windows, the sunroof and even the rear quarter windows and rear windscreen can be opened to bring in some fresh air. There’s also a Karaoke feature that shows the lyrics of a song in the head-up display.

    Technical details are slim at the moment, with the company only touting a targeted range of between 250 and 300 miles (400 to 480 km) through a standard-fit 80 kWh lithium-ion battery. The company says critical components such as the latter is included in the strategic global and localised supply chain it has secured – particularly important considering the circumstances that bankrupted the first Fisker entity.

    In the United States, Fisker owners will have access to Electrify America’s network of DC fast chargers, said to be the largest in the country with around 800 charging sites set to be built or under development by December 2021. The company will bundle in a certain amount of free charging with each vehicle, although the car can be charged at any station with a Combined Charging System (CCS) Type 2 plug.

    With Electrify America’s 350 kW chargers, the Ocean can be charged from 15% to 80% capacity in just 30 minutes, adding more than 200 miles (320 km) of range. A full-length solar panel roof augments the usual battery charging and is said to provide up to 1,000 miles (1,600 km) of free, clean range every year.

    Fisker aims to kick off production of the Ocean at the end of 2021, with the first high-volume deliveries expected the following year. It plans to produce the car in the United States, Europe and China, and projects a total of one million vehicles to be built between 2022 and 2027.

    That’s a tall order, and to reach that goal the company has announced some fairly aggressive pricing. The car will retail starting at US$37,499 (RM154,000), which will drop to US$29,999 (RM123,200) after federal incentives. There will also be a flexible lease option starting from US$379 (RM1,600) per month. The company is already collecting reservations at US$250 (RM1,000) per unit.

     
     
 

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Last Updated 24 Oct 2020