Ford Wants to Build Networks for Cities
A lot of ambitious ideas were thrown around at the Consumer Electronics Show, most interesting of all was Ford’s "City of Tomorrow" vision. CEO Jim Hackett went to CES to unveil the automaker’s plan to offer cities networks and technology to smooth the flow of goods and improve the quality of lives among its people. Part of that plan includes building a “transportation mobility cloud” that would allow cities to use a shared platform to manage autonomous vehicles and connect people to different types of transportation.
New Toyota And Lexus Vehicles To Get Amazon Alexa; Apple CarPlay and Android Auto Still No Go
These days, having the right infotainment and onboard technology is critical to new car sales, as evidenced by the huge number of automakers present at the Consumer Electronics Show this year. The latest comes from Toyota and Lexus, which just announced it would equip “select” models with advanced feature control courtesy of Amazon Alexa.
For those of you who may be unaware, Amazon Alexa is the online retain giant’s personal digital assistant. First used in the Amazon Echo, Alexa is able to provide a host of services via voice command, including music playback, the creation of to-do lists, alarm setting, real-time traffic status, and news. If properly integrated with devices and systems at home, Alexa can also perform other tasks, such as adjusting the temperature settings for the heater and A/C.
In total, Amazon Alexa can connect to “thousands” of things for added digital convenience. As for in-car features, Alexa can handle all the basics, such as remote door lock and unlock, as well as remote engine start and basic smartphone operation.
Starting this year, Amazon Alexa will be included with new Toyota vehicles equipped with the Entune 3.0 App Suite, as well as new Lexus vehicles equipped with the Enform App Suite 2.0. Toyota says the lineup of Alexa-equipped models will expand in 2019.
Meanwhile, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are still not included in Toyota’s lineup, which is a bit of a head-scratcher considering the platforms are two of the most popular smartphone support systems for modern passenger cars today. It’s great that Toyota and Lexus are stepping up their connectivity game, but with competitors flocking to Android and Apple, we can’t help but wonder how far Alexa will actually carry the brand in terms of winning over consumers.
Honda Brings Together Consortium of Tech Startups To Focus on Future Mobility
In case it isn’t obvious by now, the Consumer Electronics Show attracted just about every automaker that has a vested interest in future mobility. Honda was in attendance at the event, where it announced plans through Honda Xcelerator to bring together a consortium of tech startups with the goal of developing new technologies that are geared towards future mobility. Included in this list of startups are BRAIQ, DeepMap, DynaOptics, EXO Technologies, Tactual Labs, and WayRay.
Hyundai and Cisco Present Faster, More Secure Car Networking Technology
The growing partnership between the auto industry and Silicon Valley took center stage at the Consumer Electronics Show. One example that can be gleaned from these collaborations is the tie-up between Hyundai and Cisco. Together, the two companies revealed a new technology platform that brings 1 Gbps worth of Ethernet connectivity inside our cars. The technology sounds appealing for kids who will have no shortage of bandwidth to use inside a car, but the more important purpose of the tech is to allow automakers like Hyundai to load web-capable sensors and gadgetry in the name of accelerating the growth towards full-fledged autonomy.
Kia Interactive Cockpit at CES Shows Off Suite of New Technologies
The Kia Niro EV Concept made its debut at the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show. As ground-breaking as the concept was, the Niro EV also played host to Kia’s suite of new interactive cockpits that point directly to the company’s “Beyond Autonomous Driving vision. The cockpits feature plenty of new technologies, including a new HMI tech, Separate Sound Control System, and the world’s first in-car 5G connection.
The cockpit concepts are more than just novelty items; they’re previews to a future that Kia is pursuing. The first of these two cockpits features the Niro EV Concept’s new HMI system. This new system takes human interaction with the car’s infotainment center to a new level, including the ability to control the infotainment system and HVAC through by touch and gesture. Different gestures denote different commands; these commands range anywhere from switching music tracks, adjusting the sound system’s volume, and changing cabin ventilation settings. Even the steering wheel is in on the advancements, specifically the perforated leather area on its base that drivers can swipe to unlock different commands. The cockpit also has face and voice recognition technology, a development that came to life thanks to Kia’s collaboration with Amazon Web Services. This partnership unlocks the latter’s “Rekognition” and “Polly” software in the car.
The second of these two cockpits is no less groundbreaking than the first. If being the first at anything still counts in this industry, Kia can puff its chest knowing that its cockpit concept carries the world’s first in-vehicle 5G connection. As fast as 4G connection is, 5G connection is the future. Streaming content into the car should be faster and easier if the Korean automaker can leverage this concept application into something real and tangible. At the very least, watching content while running on 5G connection will be more of a spectacle with the cockpit’s other ground-breaking development, the Separate Sound Control System. In so many words, this tech creates two sound zones in the car, one in the two front seats and another in the rear seats, without one intruding on the other. Eight speakers are installed in the headrests, and the addition of noise-canceling technology helps mute the sound coming from the other seats, allowing a specific occupant, whether it’s the driver or the passenger, to enjoy his brand of music or podcast on his own.
Honda’s New Powerpack is Revolutionary in Terms of Simple Mobility
In the continuing quest to develop alternative sources of power, Honda took to the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show to unveil the Mobile Power Pack, a portable, swappable, and rechargeable battery that users can use to power digital devices, home appliances, emergencies, and electric mobility vehicles like motorcycles and scooters. The Mobile Power Pack is essentially an oversized powerbank that carries an output of at least 1kWh, enough juice to serve a myriad of purposes.
Meet Honda’s Newest Cute Robots the 3E Empathy, Empower, and Experience
Honda has pulled the covers off of four robot concepts at the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show. Collective called the 3E Robotics Concepts, the small prototypes are more than just novelty items that Honda cooked up for our collective pleasures; they were created to give us a taste of what the future could look like with these robots by our sides to improve our daily lives in different ways. Three of these concepts are making their world debuts at CES. One of them, 3E-C18, made its debut at the 2017 Tokyo Motor Show last October.
The Fisker eMotion Has a Beautiful Interior
The Fisker eMotion’s debut at the Consumer Electronics Show caught a few people by surprise. The debut itself was expected, but the features in the car were more than what most people thought they’d be. The eMotion’s interior is a good example of that. In a word, it’s beautiful. That doesn’t come as a shock to those who know Henrik Fisker’s work, but in some ways, the legendary auto designer seems to have outdone himself this time.
Kia Bringing WiBLE Car-Sharing Service to Europe in 2018
Kia’s new “ACE” strategy may have dominated the headlines at the Consumer Electronics Show, but that’s not the only major news to come out of the Korean automaker. Alongside the ACE initiative, Kia also announced plans to roll out its “WiBLE car-sharing service in Europe later this year. The service itself isn’t entirely new — it’s already operational in South Korea — but its expansion into some of Europe’s biggest cities is a sign that the service is ready for a more global reach.
The WiBLE car-sharing service is as it’s described. It’s going to be set up in city centers where Kia vehicles will be provided to customers who need to drive a car but may not necessarily own one. In the same breath, the service also helps those who want more convenient cars to take them to-and-from different locations. The soon-to-be-launched WiBLE operation in Europe is expected to follow a similar template to the one it’s already running in its home market. A variety of Kia models will be made available to customers, including the Soul EV and the Niro hybrid crossover. The automaker’s lineup of crossovers and SUVs are also expected to be included in the car-sharing service.
Once operational, the car-sharing service can be accessed via a smartphone app, similar to how other car- and ride-sharing services like Uber, Grab, and Lyft operate. Users will have to pay for individual journeys where they’ll be charged depending on the amount of time they spend using the car. The service also allows users to use the cars on one-way drives. In some ways, Kia’s WiBle service is not entirely different from Volvo’s Sunfleet service, which is already operational in international markets. Other automakers that have launched similar car-share services include General Motors’ Maven, BMW’s ReachNow, and Mercedes-Benz’s Croove.
Kia hasn’t announced which European cities will get first dibs on the WiBLE car-sharing service. An announcement is expected to come sometime this year.
CES 2018 – Massive Blackout Leaves Attendees In The Dark
The 2018 Consumer Electronics Show experienced power loss in the main hall today, bringing the annual trade show to a screeching halt. It’s speculated that recent rains affected the power lines supplying the venue with electricity.
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CES 2018 – Toyota’s New Mobility Ecosystem Brings Together Companies Like Uber, Mazda, Pizza Hut, And Amazon
As one might guess by glancing at the news coming out of the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show, autonomous technology and electric vehicles are a pretty hot topic right now. And not just when it comes to passenger vehicle, either – these two major advances look to revolutionize a variety of businesses as well, offering reduced costs, greater energy efficiency, and higher levels of productivity and safety. Now, Toyota is giving us a glimpse at what the future of business transport might look like with its new e-Palette Alliance and accompanying e-Palette Concept Vehicle.
Toyota’s stated goal is to “meet the demands of future multi-mode transportation and business applications” through the utilization of a “new mobility ecosystem.” That includes Toyota’s Global Mobility Services Platform, as well as a series of partnerships and a flexible, modular, self-driving, all-electric concept to power it.
Basically, the e-Palette is a big four-wheeled platform that drives itself and runs on electrons, offering a large degree of adaptability for businesses. It includes a purpose-built interior space that can be leveraged for a variety of services, including “parcel delivery, ride sharing, or on-the-road e-commerce.” Toyota says it’s planning three different sizes for the e-Palette, with measurements varying between 4 meters and 7 meters (13.1 feet and 23 feet). For reference, the model at CES measures in at 4,800 mm (189 inches) in length, 2,000 mm (78.7 inches) in width, and 2,250 mm (88.6) inches in height.
So far, Toyota’s partners include companies like Mazda, Uber, Amazon, Pizza Hut, and DiDi, all of which offer input on “vehicle planning, application concepts and vehicle verification activities.” To adapt each e-Palette to the needs of each individual company, there’s an open control interface that will enable other companies to use their own automated drive systems if desired, as well as a bevy of connected features and the possibility for over-the-air updates.
The e-Palette is more than just a good idea. Toyota says it will conduct feasibility testing in various locales in the “early 2020s,” while also bringing the concept in some capacity to the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.
Samsung and Harman Deliver Digital Cockpit and Autonomous Tech at CES
Samsung’s $8 billion purchase of Harman International has finally borne fruit. The Korean tech giant showcased the results of its harvest when it unveiled its first set of components for autonomous driving and infotainment solutions that it developed with Harman. The CES showcase includes a new digital cockpit platform and a suite of state-of-the-art technological tech features geared towards enhancing autonomous driving.