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Connected cars drive the agenda at CES 2022

LG-Omnipod

Car manufacturers and tech firms rolled out new smart motors and integrated connectivity software at the CES tech show, showing ever more convergence between the two industries.

One of the more ambitious concepts unveiled came in the form of LG’s Omnipod (pictured) – which the south Korean firm described as ‘a future mobility concept cabin that can reconstruct the customer’s space for purpose.’

It’s a concept for some sort of mega-advanced caravan essentially. It can be upgraded with modular internal and external features like fridges and retractable furniture – a level of luxury you could probably get close to in a higher end, more traditional motorhome. However the Omnipod ladles on some of the most voguish tech on top.

It comes with a metaverse supporting installation – described as ‘an adaptive interior environment that is reconfigured in real time using a moving “Meta Environment Screen”.’ It looks like the idea is the internal space can be transformed to create new environments, like a holodeck.

On top of this there’s an AI concierge service – how this goes beyond the current slate of interactive AI systems like Alexa isn’t clear yet, other than the presence of a life-sized cartoon avatar.

Of the battery of press releases Qualcomm fired off alongside its presentation, seven were related to connected/autonomous cars and deals with automotive manufacturers. The mobile chip giant has been making some big swings recently in the smart car space, having paid $4.5 billion for automotive tech firm Veoneer in October,  and unveiling its Snapdragon Ride autonomous driving solution at CES 2020.

At the show it announced Renault would now begin integrating the Snapdragon Digital Chassis into its cars, while Desay SV and Volvo will both start using the Snapdragon Cockpit Platform to build out upcoming connected car tech. It will also work with Alps Alpine to ‘Deliver Next-Generation Automotive Cabin and Cockpit Solutions’. It also unveiled a host of new features such as the Snapdragon Ride Vision System – described as an open, scalable, and modular computer vision software stack.

Sony unveiled an electric car concept called the Vision S – an SUV type prototype vehicle that uses the same EV/cloud platform as the prototype (VISION-S 01), which was unveiled previously and seemed to be primarily about showcasing some imaging and sensing technology it had developed, installed inside and outside the vehicle.

But the key thing here is Sony seems to be properly jumping into the automotive industry now rather than flirting with concepts. It states: “In order to further accelerate and make new proposals that further evolve the mobility experience, Sony will establish an operating company Sony Mobility Inc in the spring of 2022, through which the company intends to explore entry into the EV market.”

As well as a raft of details on brand new gaming laptops and graphics card variants, Nvidia detailed its new virtual driving assistant developed to work alongside its Drive Chauffeur platform. Called the Nvida Drive Concierge platform, it apparently combines ‘speech AI’, computer vision, natural language understanding, recommendation engines and simulation system, and creates interactive avatars with ray-traced 3D graphics that you can chat with.

Nvidia said in a statement: “These important developments in intelligent driving technology, as well as innovations from suppliers, automakers and trucking companies all building on NVIDIA DRIVE, are heralding the arrival of the autonomous era.”

Meanwhile there was plenty of signalling from the traditional automotive firms that they are developing more teched up car offerings.  While GM, BMW and Mercedes pulled out of physically attending CES this year, some presentations are still happening virtually, and the noise is all about electric smart cars.

A GM spokesperson told Car and Driver that: “CES is an important technology platform, and we are continuing with our plans on January 5 to share our significant company news including the reveal of the Chevrolet Silverado EV.”

BMW will later today (8.00pm CET) will make a virtual presentation. On its site it says: “BMW Group showcases digital innovations from today to the far future, which focus on human-centered digital interactions.

“Highlights include the world premiere of the BMW iX M60 (Combined electricity consumption: 24.7 – 21.7 kWh/100 km* according to WLTP; combined CO2 emissions: 0 g/km), collaborations with world-renowned artists, the first-ever demonstration of a technology that changes a vehicle’s exterior colour and the in-car entertainment experience of the future.”

As is the nature of CES, there are hundreds of announcements flying out from any given sector, and there’s certainly plenty more connected car kit being unveiled in Las Vegas than we’ve listed here. Tech firms are moving further into the automotive sector either by collaboration or more on their own steam, and automotive firms are looking to either integrate or develop their own connected systems for new electric vehicles.

This trend is not new – car firms have had a presence at CES at for years. But this year’s show would seem to represent the largest splurge of autonomous or connected car activity yet, painting an ever clearer impression of two industries merging.

  • CES


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