Car Technology At The 2014 Consumer Electronics Show
The displays of car technology at the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas readily demonstrated personal tech has become more and more integral to our cars—as well as our lives in general. Further, it is poised become even more so. Because of this, the annual Consumer Electronics Show, has all but become yet another stop on the annual Auto Show circuit (please pardon the pun). Notable car technology on display at the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show included driverless cars from noted manufacturers, as well as two smartphone parking apps.
Car Technology At The 2014 Consumer Electronics Show: Audi Driverless Cars
Making the biggest splash at the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show with driverless cars were Audi and BMW. While many show the laser headlights of Audi’s Sport Quattro Laserlight concept car wowed goers, the truly illuminating Audi at CES was the self-driving A7. And while, it’s obvious we’re still several years away form truly driverless cars, the Audi demonstrated the technology is much closer to reality than people might think.
As it exists now, it’s good for short stretches of highway travel, however the real breakthrough is the development of the hardware needed to control the car. Dubbed “zFAS”, the compact computing system is capable of traffic sign recognition, lane departure warnings, and pedestrian spotting. Where previously it consumed the entire cargo area of an A7, it now fits into a panel in the side of the cargo compartment.
“Piloted driving” is the term introduced to refer to the tech, and one of the biggest commercial players is computer chip maker NVIDIA, whose Tegra K1 192-core super chip is the “brain” making the driving decisions behind the scenes. Boasting the processing power of the world’s most powerful supercomputers from a decade ago, the power, efficiency and small size of the Tegra K1 makes it ideal for automotive applications. The chip
Audi already uses Tegra processors for in-car infotainment and navigation. This is key because these systems will need to be integrated into piloted driving systems should the need to get the attention of the human driver become apparent. These systems will interrupt phone calls or entertainment playback to refocus attention outside of the car should it encounter a situation best responded to by the human being behind the wheel.
According to reports, the first street application will be offered in the next generation Audi A8. The car will feature what Audi termed “Stop-and-go Traffic Jam Assist”. The car will brake, steer, and accelerate completely of its own volition in keeping with the traffic conditions at speeds up to approximately 37 miles per hour. When the backup clears and traffic begins to flow freely again, it will alert the driver to retake control of the car. If the driver does not respond, the system will cause the Audi to brake slowly to a stop and activate its hazard lights.
Car Technology At The 2014 Consumer Electronics Show: BMW Driverless Cars
Of course the company touting itself as building the ultimate driving machines would have a different spin on piloted driving. At the 2014 CES, BMW showed a piloted 6 Series Gran Coupe and a piloted 2 Series Coupe capable of lapping Las Vegas Motor Speedway’s road course at speed. The cars drifted around corners, attacked a series of cones on a slalom course, and demonstrated defensive driving maneuvers to showcase their ability to recover from potential loss of control situations.
Fitted with both a Lateral Control Unit and a Longitudinal Control unit, to inform the BMW’s automated car control systems, the cars were used to demonstrate what BMW says will be its first steps toward completely automated driving. As an interim stepping-stone, the company’s first offering will be what it calls “Highly Automated Driving”.
Like the Audi, it will be capable of piloting itself on the highway, but rather than a fully autonomous system it will provide driver assistance, giving the driver the option to take over the car when either the desire, or the need arises. Thus if the driver want s to check eMail, or watch the news during like a 30-minute commute to work, the car can handle it. Then out in the country side when the roads twist and turn and driving can be entertaining, the autonomous system can be switched off and the driver can go at it with near abandon.
Car Technology At The 2014 Consumer Electronics Show: Driverless Cars: What The Future Might Look Like
Car Technology At The 2014 Consumer Electronics Show: Self-Parking Smartphone App
A number of manufacturers currently offer cars capable of parking themselves on the street. Practically every Ford model offers the functionality as an option. So do many of the models from BMW, Toyota, and Land Rover.
This capability was take one step farther at the 2014 CES, with both Bosch and Valeo unveiling iPhone-controlled self-parking systems. Using the iPhone app, one can move the car, drive it to an open parking space, and park it.
The Valeo system employed a Land Rover Range Rover Evoque’s 12 ultrasonic sensors, laser scanner, and four “around-view” cameras to determine its position. To co-ordinate the information provided to the car from all of these inputs, Valeo fit a CPU to analyze the data and a control unit for steering braking and accelerating. The size of the standard engine control unit of the Land Rover, there were no obvious visual cues to the Evoque’s parking capability.
Valeo representatives said the system could parallel park the Evoque as well as nose it into perpendicular parking spaces. Further, the functionally could be incorporated into a key fob just as easily as a smartphone, making it more convenient for the driver to use.
The Bosch system worked similarly, permitting a driver to park the car simply by swiping a virtual image of the car on a smartphone. The system independently controls the vehicle’s speed, steering and transmission to reverse and pull forward as required. According to Bosch representatives, any car with electronic steering and transmission selection can be controlled by the system.