The Most Innovative and Eye-Catching Cars of CES 2017
By Dan Costa, PC Magazine, 7 January 2017.
By Dan Costa, PC Magazine, 7 January 2017.
The fact that cars are a huge part of CES every year isn't news. As PC vendors move off the show floor, auto makers move in. In many cases, the vehicles are concepts that won't reach your local showrooms, but they are a perfect indication of what is technologically possible.
In the last five years, self-driving cars went from science fiction to reality. Major auto makers are testing autonomous vehicles on public roads, as are Google, Tesla, and Uber. If you haven't seen them yet, it might be because the LiDAR sensors that used to sit awkwardly atop these vehicles are now tiny, unassuming boxes. CES vendors are preparing for a future dominated by autonomous vehicles. The only question is how consumers and regulators will adapt.
The biggest splash at the show was undoubtedly the Faraday Future FF91. A year ago, the company announced plans to build the self-driving car of the future, a high-performance and fully autonomous Tesla rival. This year, it demoed a working model. To be clear, the demo was under very controlled conditions and the car is nowhere near ready for commercial release. Even so, it seems clear that the future of transportation will look something like the FF91.
Or at least, that is the ultimate goal. In the short-term, autonomous vehicles may not be as flashy. Mercedes and Ford both showed off commercial vehicle formats that could shuffle employees or goods around a corporate campus. The idea is that autonomous vehicles will be too costly for consumers at first, but will be perfect for businesses or even municipalities. A bus route will be a lot easier to map than the open road. Sexy cars or not, the transportation industry is set for a major transformation. Here are the vehicles in the vanguard.
1. Faraday Future FF91
You can reserve your Faraday Future FF91 now for just US$5,000 down, although no one knows when it will ship or how much it will cost in total. Faraday Future has huge obstacles to overcome before we see the FF91 on the road, but it's quite ambitious.
2. Toyota Concept-i
Toyota's new Concept-i uses artificial intelligence to transform the relationship between car and driver. The car will recognize the driver's mood and interact with them on a personal level. Sound like K.I.T.T.? Toyota calls it "Yui."
The Concept-i control panels are minimal because many of the functions are designed to be voice-controlled. The doors will open automatically when users approach.
3. Nissan BladeGlider
The Nissan Blade Glider is a zero-emission, high-performance sports car for the 21st century. It has an electric engine, but it operates so quietly that the car seems to glide along roadways.
The Blade Glider's aerodynamic design includes gull-wing doors that slide up vertically.
4. Nissan Intelligent Mobility
As part of its Intelligent Mobility effort, Nissan wants to combat the most pressing issues addressing the industry today: climate change, traffic congestion, road fatalities, and increasing air pollution. The ultimate goal is zero emissions and zero fatalities on the road, which will be accomplished by AI and more environmentally friendly vehicles, among other things. And fancy-looking cars like this one.
5. BMW HoloActive Touch Concept
Voice-driven interfaces aren't the only new way to interact with your car. BMW showed off a HoloActive Touch concept that uses holograms to convey information to the driver.
With the car doing the driving, why not bring a book or two along for your ride to the office? The BMW HoloActive Touch Concept shows how the car is becoming a living room on wheels.
Adorably, the BMW HoloActive Touch Concept includes a steering wheel. As if there will be drivers in the future.
6. Honda NeuV
Honda's NeuV, or new electric urban vehicle, is more a people-mover than a traditional car and looks to shuffle passengers around urban environments.
7. Honda Self-Balancing Motorcycle
You will still need a motorcycle permit to ride one of these, but it will be a lot easier to pass the test. The Honda Self-Balancing Motorcycle uses a gyroscope to keep the bike upright and moving in the right direction.
8. Chrysler Portal
It is really hard to make a minivan cool. That said, adding autonomous driving and a slick new design can go a long way. That is exactly what Chrysler did with the Portal concept, which it hopes will appeal to millennials.
9. LeEco LeSee Pro
If you thought the Faraday Future FF91 was a long shot, the LeSee Pro is a lower-cost model from LeEco, whose CEO is also a Faraday investor. It's an update to the original LeSee the company showed off in China last year.
LeSee Pro details are scant, though we know it's electric and will have autonomous capabilities. The company says the LeSee Pro "was designed with connected entertainment in mind," so there are three in-car screens, which will offer "personalized and constantly updated selection of curated content."
10. Mercedes Vision Van
Despite the hype, the most successful autonomous vehicles are most likely going to look like the Mercedes Vision van. We first heard about this in September, and Mercedes-Benz has it on display here at CES.
It might look boring, but inside the Vision van are automated racks that organize packages for the driver. Up top are two drones. While a human is dropping off something at your doorstep, the drones can deliver packages up to 4 pounds within a six-mile radius.
Top image: Toyota Concept-i by Paul Maljak.
[Source: PC Magazine. Edited. Some links added.]