Is this the future of cars?

Every year, the Consumer Electronics Show turns up some outlandish but cool technology or conceptual technology that could one day be in our future. This year, Chrysler showed up on the scene with a new concept known as the Chrysler Portal – a vehicle that Chrysler claims is “designed to keep the driver and passengers connected to each other, to the vehicle and to the surrounding world.” The Concept was built, in part, with Panasonic, and uses the brand’s Cognitive Infotainment platform as a foundation for the technology contained within. To put it simply, the concept car showcases a future for vehicles where device sharing, social media interaction, and individual recognition of passengers is commonplace.

On the outside, this concept looks oddly familiar to the Volkswagen ID concept – at least as far as generalized design goes, while the interior is wildly futurist and looks like something straight out of Star Trek. With touch panels and a massive display suppressing the need for mechanical buttons to go with a two-handled steering wheel, this thing is quite literally a space shuttle on wheels. The only thing it’s missing is a self-sustaining atmosphere, an impulse drive, and gravity plating. Otherwise, this thing could be shipped off to space for an interplanetary joyride.

Okay, in all seriousness, we’re still a ways off from that, but this concept does showcase a unique interpretation to technology, future vehicles, and perhaps a future where autonomous cars don’t actually take away our ability to manually drive a vehicle, should we choose to do so. So, let’s take a quick walk down the page and see what all the hype is about.

Exterior

2017 Chrysler Portal Concept Exterior Computer Renderings and Photoshop
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On the outside, the Portal Concept takes on a styling similar to that of other future-based concepts, featuring a smaller body with a large greenhouse and lots of glass. The overhang ahead of the front wheels or behind the rear wheels is practically non-existent. The front end features what appears to be some unique, perforated LED stripping around the central nose, small headlights that are integrated into the hood, and a few small air passages here and there that are probably used to cool down things like the electric motors and battery pack, as there’s no way thing has an internal combustion engine hidden anywhere under the body. The windshield is large and in your face, featuring a curved styling that matches that of the roof glass.

2017 Chrysler Portal Concept Exterior Computer Renderings and Photoshop
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2017 Chrysler Portal Concept Exterior Computer Renderings and Photoshop
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2017 Chrysler Portal Concept Exterior Computer Renderings and Photoshop
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2017 Chrysler Portal Concept Exterior Computer Renderings and Photoshop
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The Portal Concept takes on a styling similar to that of other future-based concepts, featuring a smaller body with a large greenhouse and lots of glass.

The side profile in pretty much nothing but a pair of uniquely styled doors to go with some mild fender flares. The roof glass actually curves downward behind the rear doors to create rear-quarter glass. It’s different, but kind of a nice touch. Unlike the VW ID concept, however, both doors slide open with the front sliding forward and the rear sliding to the back. There is a fairly sharp body line that runs from the headlights, across the fender, and across the rear quarter panels. The insert on the doors also carries the same line, effectively giving the appearance of length that isn’t really there from certain views.

The back side of the Portal Concept also showcases some interesting styling cues. There’s a small, upswept overhang on the rear hatch the transitions into the rear quarters. The design of the rear glass, the rear hatch, and the taillights gives an awkwardly pleasing look to the rear. The taillights have a dot matrix design and are rather larger. The insert on the rear hatch mirrors that of the side doors, and despite the overall futuristic nature of the Portal, it’s actually something I could see on the roads in the next 20 years. After all, more and more of these future-based concepts are starting to come with a similar look, so it may be inevitable that our cars may someday look quite similar to this concept.

Interior

2017 Chrysler Portal Concept Interior Computer Renderings and Photoshop
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Sliding open the doors on the Portal immediately gives you a sense of futuristic prowess that is powered by modern technology and ideas. There’s a lot of things that catch the eye on first glance, but not enough to cause sensory overload. Despite the space shuttle look, there’s actually a lot of basic design cues here that will undoubtedly make it into cars of the future. For instance, the Portal offers up seating for six, including the driver, via three rows of captain’s chairs. It’s not the first time we’ve seen a design like this, but there are a pair of rails on each side that allow the seats to be slid all the way to the rear or all the way forward, ultimately allowing passengers to reorganize the seating structure to accommodate for extra cargo or even extra passenger room.

2017 Chrysler Portal Concept Interior Computer Renderings and Photoshop
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2017 Chrysler Portal Concept Interior Computer Renderings and Photoshop
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There’s actually a lot of basic design cues here that will undoubtedly make it into cars of the future.

The door trim panels are rather uneventful but are still stylish in their own way with stripes in all the right places. Interestingly enough, there is actually transparent glass at the bottom of the door as well, which would serve no purpose that I can think of, but is interesting nonetheless. The seats themselves are stylish with a unique design in a two-tone color layout. The headrests are rather flat and overlap the backrest just a bit on the bottom. There don’t offer much in terms of side support, but I doubt this is a model that would be involved in any spirited driving anyway. On a side note, the padding of the seats actually looks rather thin in comparison to cars today, so these seats may not be as comfortable as one might hope.

Moving over to the technology front, there’s actually a lot to talk about. First off, this thing is capable of autonomous driving, but also gives the option of piloting yourself down the road. The steering wheel itself looks like something you would find in a space shuttle, and based on the pictures we have here, will collapse and recede into the dash when autonomous drive is engaged. What’s more important here, though, is the connectivity and the technology that makes that possible. First, the Portal uses facial recognition, mobile device connectivity, and voice biometrics to determine who is in the vehicle and in what position to create a personalized experience for each rider. Settings are remembered and restored to the proper location should a passenger change seating positions. The system controls things like music, lighting, temperature, the heated and cooled seats, and seat position, among other things.

2017 Chrysler Portal Concept Interior Computer Renderings and Photoshop
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2017 Chrysler Portal Concept Interior Computer Renderings and Photoshop
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2017 Chrysler Portal Concept Interior Computer Renderings and Photoshop
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2017 Chrysler Portal Concept Interior Computer Renderings and Photoshop
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It’s an interesting take on the future of the automobile, and with the way social media has become a primary form of communication, there’s no doubt in my mind that this is probably what the future holds.

As you can see there is no instrument cluster as we know it, but instead, a wide screen that sits atop the dash. Chrysler says that the purpose of its elevated location is to motivate drivers to keep their eyes on the road. Of course, that only goes so face considering the large display screen in the place of a center stack that undoubtedly provides navigation and traffic information, among other things. All passengers can make use of the voice recognition system, as an array of microphones is able to detect the specific location of whoever spoke a command. And, this thing is set up for social media as well and takes the concept of digital social interaction to a whole new level. There is a hub that hangs from the roof that serves as a “community display screen” when a phone or tablet is docked and provides easy access to sharing things like music, videos, or images by using various swipe maneuvers across the screen. This thing will even take a selfie, on request, once passengers arrive at their destination and will even download it to every connected device because…. memories.

One other thing worthy of mention here is the Chrysler has come up with a way to keep the vehicle affordable by making the technology adaptable and upgradeable. You’ll be able to choose what technology you want and when it is integrated into the vehicle. All told, it’s an interesting take on the future of the automobile, and with the way social media has become a primary form of communication, there’s no doubt in my mind that this is probably what the future holds.

Drivetrain

2017 Chrysler Portal Concept Computer Renderings and Photoshop Drivetrain
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Chrysler has said very little about what motivates the Portal, but it has said that it’s battery powered, which is to be expected with most concept vehicles at this point. Looking at the diagram above, most of the center floor panel will be home to a large battery. There doesn’t appear to be an electric motor in the rear, and there is only one motor up front, so this thing is clearly front-wheel drive. Based on the design we see here, it doesn’t appear as if torque vector between the front wheels is an option, so torque will likely be distributed to each wheel evenly. There are a total of three liquid reservoirs located above the front passenger wheel. One is most likely for the hydraulic braking system, and another would be for windshield washer fluid, but there’s something more interesting to point out there. This thing may make use of liquid cooling for the battery and electric motor. Notice how there’s a radiator with what appears to be a fan up front? There’s no ICE engine to speak of here, so our best guess is that the system keeps the battery cool, but there could be more going on here than what meets the eye.

Performance specs, power outputs, and the like are all a complete mystery, but this thing is designed for comfortable and relaxing travel, not spirited driving. Chances are the Portal probably sits pretty low on the power spectrum, so I wouldn’t expect any future production model to get up to speed too quickly.

Conclusion

2017 Chrysler Portal Concept Exterior Computer Renderings and Photoshop
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After looking over this concept in detail, there’s no doubt in my mind that this type of design and connectivity is where cars are heading in the future. There have been so many futuristic concepts out there; it’s only a matter of time before they become production models. For now, the concepts are simply easing the masses into acceptance of the eventual transition to these tech-heavy vehicles. After all, once we start seeing full autonomous vehicles that don’t require human intervention on the road, there’s nothing stopping concepts like this from turning into a production model. I doubt it will happen in this decade, but by the time 2025 or 2030 rolls around, you could very well have a Portal sitting in your driveway. I’m still not sure how much I like the whole social media approach that we see with the Portal concept, but social media is still booming and has become a primary form of human communication, so I can see where it has its place.

What do you think? Could you see yourself riding around in one of these in the next 10 years? Let us know what you think in the comments section below.

  • Leave it
    • * Inside feels more like a space shuttle than a car
    • * Loads of glass could pose privacy issues
    • * No stripper pole?

Press Release

The Chrysler Portal concept is designed to keep the driver and passengers connected – to each other, to the vehicle and to the surrounding world.

Starting with today’s widespread use of the Internet and social media for communication and information, the FCA User Experience (UX) team, and an internal UX Tiger team from the Panasonic Automotive Advanced Engineering function, jointly picked a blend of emerging and future technologies to engage the next generation of vehicle users.

2017 Chrysler Portal Concept Exterior Computer Renderings and Photoshop
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“When our teams began imagining the user experiences inside the Chrysler Portal, we set out to identify a long-time supplier partner who could help push the limits of customization and personalization,” said Scott Thiele, Chief Purchasing Officer for FCA NV and Head of Purchasing and Supplier Quality for FCA – North America. “Working with Panasonic Automotive on this concept vehicle is just one example of how FCA is engaging strategic suppliers early in the development phase to bring to life innovations that can become industry benchmarks.”

Tapping the Panasonic Cognitive Infotainment (PCI) platform as the foundation of the UX feature set, the Chrysler User Experience team matched future consumer needs (life, finances and new technology) to those new technology solutions now exhibited in the Portal concept.

“Working together, FCA and Panasonic Automotive are showing a more cognitively enhanced set of technologies that can give drivers and passengers a superior, more accurate, just-in-time in-vehicle experience,” said Tom Gebhardt, President, Panasonic Automotive Systems Company of America.
“In fact, we are so delighted by the partnership, Panasonic has created a complimentary technology exhibition to further showcase our joint interests in UX, software, hardware, and cloud services specifically featuring a unique e-commerce retail use case.”

2017 Chrysler Portal Concept Exterior Computer Renderings and Photoshop
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The battery-powered Chrysler Portal concept electric vehicle was unveiled today at CES 2017 in Las Vegas.

Facial recognition, voice biometrics provide a seamless, personalized experience

For members of the millennial generation, the target audience for the Chrysler Portal concept, technology is more than a tool – it’s an integral part of their lives.

The hub of this technology is the mobile phone. The Chrysler Portal concept is engineered to seamlessly detect and connect with passengers’ mobile devices, expanding the social canvas.

Recognition and user authentication is the next level of personalization and a primary driving factor for the user experience. Facial recognition and voice biometric technologies work together to provide a seamless personalization experience. As a result, all passengers can set up individual and group settings for an enjoyable, customized experience. For example, facial recognition tells the Chrysler Portal who is in the vehicle and how to automatically configure preferred settings, such as music, lighting, vehicle temperature, heated or cooled seats, etc. Internet cloud-based technologies, combined with facial and voice recognition, keep those preferred settings in sync should a passenger move to another seat.

2017 Chrysler Portal Concept Exterior Computer Renderings and Photoshop
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Accessing technology inside the vehicle is naturally intuitive using a blend of voice controls with familiar touch controls. With an array of microphones inside the Portal concept, voice control is available to all occupants. Advanced speech software can identify who is speaking to accurately determine an action, such as which display screen to access. Embedded interior and connected portable device cameras also facilitate conversations and interactions.

Want to play music tailored for an individual, such as a child? Simply say, “Play Johnny’s ‘Naptime Favorites’ playlist.” Personalized audio zones enable each passenger to listen to their own content isolated to their seat without the need for headphones.

Facial recognition enables the Chrysler Portal concept to track the driver’s directional gaze, as a result, the intensity of the high-mount display screen can automatically dim or increase to help reduce eye strain. If the driver is looking at a specific location on the display and a critical notification occurs, such as an oncoming emergency vehicle, a message pop-up in the area where the driver is looking helps reduce reaction time.

2017 Chrysler Portal Concept Interior Computer Renderings and Photoshop
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Turn road trips into social memories

Social media plays a large role in the lives of many Millennials. In the Chrysler Portal concept, sharing content between passengers is as easy as a swipe to the right. A personal tablet or mobile device becomes a community display screen via a docking station in the Chrysler Portal’s headliner, making it easily viewable by second- and third-row passengers. Media such as music, images and videos from personal devices can be shared with a simple upward swipe to the display screen. The community display is ideal for road trips with family and friends. At a glance, infographics show the progress of the vehicle to the trip destination.

The Chrysler Portal concept also takes into consideration each passenger’s media preferences and enables them to contribute to the road trip experience. Using predictive intelligence, passenger preferences can be merged to create an overall community setting that can help the group find destinations and plan the best route, select a restaurant, and play music and videos everyone can enjoy.

Once a route is set, it can be added to the community display so all passengers can monitor the trip’s progress. At the lunch break, passengers can use the technology in the Chrysler Portal concept to order from a quick service restaurant via voice or touchscreen without rolling down the window or leaving the vehicle, a real convenience in inclement weather. If someone is not sure what to order, the system’s intelligence can offer suggestions based on the passenger’s personal settings. With ecommerce, there is no need for cash or a credit card as the payment can be securely transacted from the vehicle while in transit.

Once at the destination, interior and exterior cameras can capture the moment with a selfie, which is then automatically downloaded to everyone’s personal device and can be shared via social media.

2017 Chrysler Portal Concept Interior Computer Renderings and Photoshop
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Affordable, upgradeable technology designed to be added as needed

Keeping the user experience affordable, the Chrysler Portal concept’s in-vehicle technology is designed to be adaptable and upgradeable. Cost-conscious consumers are able to decide what technology they want to add and when they want to integrate it into their vehicle, such as adding technologies to meet the ongoing needs of a new family. For example, the vehicle’s short-range wireless network enables parents to connect a baby monitor camera to a seat, with the image appearing on the high-mount display.

Another way consumers could integrate their personal devices is by using the Chrysler Portal Concept Companion App. Once downloaded to a mobile device, the companion app has the ability to customize vehicle lighting, control vehicle and home settings, lock/unlock doors and operate other functions from any location.

2017 Chrysler Portal Concept Computer Renderings and Photoshop Drivetrain
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Advanced driving assistance

A key element of the Chrysler Portal concept’s user experience is the graphic-rich, high-quality information available to the driver.

The hub of this information is the high-mount display, located above where a traditional instrument panel would be placed. Active Matrix Organic Light Emitting Diode (AMOLED) technology in the display makes the screen brighter and sharper. The technology embedded in the Chrysler Portal collects a wide spectrum of visual, sensor-based and infrastructure data; organizes and configures the information for display; and tailors the presentation to keep the driver’s attention on the highest priority functions.

The display, which spans nearly the entire length of the instrument panel, is positioned higher intentionally for greater visibility and to aid the driver keeping his/her eyes on the road. Maintaining visibility with the horizon helps reduce the possibility of motion sickness while interacting with the 3-D graphics, especially if Level 3 autonomous driving mode is engaged.

The length of the screen enables three zones of information. The first section of the screen, located in front of the driver, offers traditional vehicle information, such as speed. The middle section displays a 360-degree situational awareness view, such as surrounding vehicles, GPS information and points of interest, and can be viewed by other vehicle occupants. The third section can be used for media sharing, status updates of passengers, such as their seat temperature, music or videos being played and a view of them.

2017 Chrysler Portal Concept Exterior Computer Renderings and Photoshop
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During Level 3 autonomous driving, the display communicates the status of the vehicle and the surrounding environment. Should the vehicle come to a stop or perform a quick maneuver, the viewable display makes it clear to all occupants the status of the vehicle.

The Chrysler Portal concept is constantly using Vehicle-to-X (V2X) communication that enables the vehicle to “talk” with the public infrastructure, Internet, and other vehicles via an array of sensors. For example, if an approaching ambulance is out of sight, V2X systems will notify the vehicle that the ambulance is approaching. Graphics on the high-mount display will communicate the oncoming ambulance by simulating its approach and direction, and the audio system will provide cues that the vehicle is approaching.

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