2020 kicks off with an array of connected vehicle technology
The early part of every year sees thousands of consumer technology executives jetting off to Las Vegas for the annual CES event – a showcase of what we can expect from the industry in the next 12 months.
Vehicle technology comes of age
In recent years vehicle technology has become an increasingly important part of the mix at CES, with the automotive and consumer technology industries moving increasingly closer. The launch of in car technology such as Apple Car Play and Android Auto combined with Amazon’s desire to bring Alexa into connected vehicles, demonstrates how the two industries continue to merge.
In 2020 the traditional car manufacturers showcased a slew of new cars at the event: Ford demonstrated a fully electric Mustang that is expected to be on the road by the end of the year. Meanwhile Audi, Fiat, Honda and Mercedes Benz all showcased concepts that might inspire future vehicle design. Surprisingly, Sony also showcased a concept vehicle for the first time - demonstrating the extent to which technology companies are now focused on the car market. Part vision for Sony’s future and part a showcase of the company’s current technology aspirations in sensors and infotainment, Sony did not confirm if the vehicle would ever actually be made.
Many new communications and safety features were also showcased in Las Vegas. The advent of 5G, which has been launched in several countries but is yet to reach anything like critical mass, is being seen as an enabling technology to deliver fast reliable communications. This could facilitate future vehicle to vehicle communications, reducing the reliance on drivers to manage journeys alone. From braking for a driver to advising about the most efficient real time routes, assistive technology and connected cars can help to facilitate a safer and more efficient driving experience, especially as the number of vehicles on roads continues to grow.
All these technologies could have a profound impact on the future of parking. At CES 2019, Clarion demonstrated a self-parking vehicle. A driver parks their car in the traditional way but can then hail it via a mobile app, to meet them at another location. The car can then drive itself to meet the driver. This is the kind of application that combining the expertise of the automotive and technology industry might bring to driving in the current decade.
None of this comes without challenges. If a vehicle is semi-autonomous, who is responsible if something goes wrong? The driver? The manufacturer? The retailer? What happens if a car driving itself collides with a non-autonomous vehicle? Computers can calculate extremely quickly but there will likely be uncertainty when two vehicles travelling at a collective speed of 150 miles per hour are heading towards each other. Assistive technology promises safer journeys, but could this come at the cost of less observant drivers who increasingly rely on vehicles to do the hard work? For the technology seen at CES to deliver on its potential, there will need to be much more industry collaboration. All parties will need to drive common standards and outthink some of the very real challenges that come with increased automation in vehicles.