CES 2016 may be over but the excitement it delivered will live on, especially now that it has become a car show. Ok that is a bit disingenuous but the world’s most important showcase of new technology has drawn the attention of automakers like never before. This year, we saw cars that come with their own pet drone and that respond to a wave of the hand; vehicles that provide real-time health diagnostics and that can automatically interact with everything from smart ovens, lighting systems and thermostats around the home. Truly, automakers made an indelible impression on this year’s Las Vegas technology extravaganza. Here are five important concepts, only two of which are from established car brands, that will generate buzz long after the Ehang drone has faded from view.
The BMW iVision Future Interaction Concept Car explores how drivers will keep control over the various in-car functions as vehicles become computers on wheels. The answer is panoramic touchless touch screens, responding to hand gestures instead. “This system is able to recognize 3D movements and relay them to the interface. This next step in gesture control will open up new possibilities,” said BMW’s Klaus Fröhlich. The concept is pictured above.
Bosch is trying to solve the problem from the opposite side. Its future dashboard system (above) is resplendent in touch screens but ones that manipulate the driver’s finger when touched that it feels like pressing a real knob or button. The sensation is remarkable and this sense of touching a knob makes a control easier to find, meaning there’s no need to take your eyes off the road. “We want to make people’s lives better and easier, and the key to this is connectivity,” said Bosch CEO Dr. Volkmar Denner.
Rinspeed’s Ʃtos concept had a drone for collecting supplies, videoing drives and scouting out the road head. It sounds leftfield but Ford also announced plans to integrate car and drone technology at this year’s show as a means of helping United Nations emergency response teams.
Faraday Future turned heads with its first car, the FFZERO1 – a single-seat electric racer straight out of the future. “On our platform, electric vehicles will not only deliver on sustainability, but will be seamlessly connected and exhilarating to drive,” said the company’s Nick Sampson. The car has a Bugatti-baiting 1000bhp and similar acceleration and top speed credentials. However it is just a concept. The first production car isn’t due until at least 2018.
That means it will arrive at the same time as Volkswagen’s Budd-e, a battery-driven reimagining of its iconic Microbus. This is a little off our radar but given the recent issues faced by Volkswagen, positive developments should also be watched carefully. Revealed as a concept but one heading for production, the MPV can travel 500km+ on one charge and previews features, like gesture-operated doors and self-parking that are coming to the VW range shortly. “The original Microbus was the embodiment of peace, hope and happiness, an apartment on wheels. The future belongs to cars that make everyone happy,” said VW head Dr. Herbert Diess.