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Volkswagen BUDD-e

CES 2016: Volkswagen starts with an apology

Volkswagen BUDD-eAs the Volkswagen Group emissions scandal rumbles on, new CEO Dr. Herbert Diess wasted no time at VW’s CES 2016 keynote apologising to the assembled crowd of media and Volkswagen enthusiasts.

“The current issue around diesel engines is nothing to be proud of. We are truly sorry.

“Volkswagen is disappointed this could happen in a company we love.”

He added that 2016 will be the year of putting it right. And “we are focused on making sure this can never happen again at Volkswagen.”


Read more:

Volkswagen BUDD-e: the electric Microbus for 2019

Yes, automated cars WILL be on sale by 2020

Das it: Volkswagen to ditch famous slogan


The scandal even threatened Volkswagen’s very attendance at CES 2016, admitted Dr. Diess. Speaking to Consumer Technology Association president and CEO Gary Shapiro on stage, he said the car giant had doubts as the scandal broke.

“When we spoke in September, we wondered whether to do it. But we decided to: we feel it’s a good thing.”

New Volkswagen

Dr. Diess then quickly moved on to outline how Volkswagen has changed, and is changing, in response to the emissions crisis. Enter New Volkswagen.

This initiative is “redefining every aspect of VW”. It’s about affordable electric mobility, he said. Fully connected cars. Affordable advanced driving. Intuitive cars that can serve as a second home on wheels.

Enter the BUDD-e (pictured above), the concept EV to take it beyond dieselgate, and the e-Golf Touch, which showcases Volkswagen’s next-generation infotainment system (bringing tech like gesture control to the masses).

“Cars will become the most important device in the internet,” said Dr. Diess. Before then promising nearly all of the features packed into the new e-Golf Touch on show at CES 2016 will become a showroom reality “before CES 2017”.

“The best days of the car are yet to come,” he said. He will be hoping New Volkswagen means the same for VW too.

Volkswagen BUDD-e

Volkswagen BUDD-e: the electric Microbus for 2019

The much-loved Volkswagen Microbus has been reinvented: say hello to your new buddy

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Kia Drive Wise

CES 2016: Kia brands autonomous tech Drive Wise

Kia Drive WiseKia is getting into autonomous cars in a big way – and at CES 2016, it’s even announced it’s creating a new sub-brand for the high-tech cars, called Drive Wise.

The umbrella brand for all its Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS), Drive Wise will be the brand under which Kia’s planned 2020 partially-autonomous production cars are sold.

By 2030, there will be a fully autonomous Kia Drive Wise self-driving car in showrooms.

The announcement of Drive Wise follow’s Kia’s recent commitment to invest £1.3 billion into driverless cars tech.

At CES 2016, Kia’s showing plenty more of the Drive Wise tech it’s currently developing for launch in the next 15 years. These include:

  • Highly Autonomous Driving – allows a car to auto-drive at high speed and change lanes without driver input
  • Urban Autonomous Driving – self-drives through cities using GPS and road position sensors; can even respond to live traffic reports
  • Preceding Vehicle Following – follows the car in front at a safe distance
  • Emergency Stop System – automatically stops the car if the driver’s eyes stray from the road for too long (if they, say, fall asleep…)
  • Traffic Jam Assist – the car keeps going without crashing and even changes lane to move along faster
  • Autonomous Parking & Out – get out the car and park it by remote control

Tae-Won Lim, SVP, Central Advanced Research and Engineering Institute of Hyundai Motor Group, said, “Kia is undergoing a very promising and gradual process of introducing partially and fully autonomous technologies to its vehicles.

“Although the first marketable fully-autonomous car from Kia will not be available in the immediate future, the work our R&D teams are currently doing to develop our range of Drive wise technologies is already improving on-road safety and driver assistance.”

CES 2016: Bosch wins award for touchscreen ‘feel’ button tech

Bosch_haptic_touchscreenPart of Bosch’s show car interior at CES 2016 has already won a prize: the all-new ‘real feel’ touchscreen has scooped an Innovation Award.

This clever screen uses haptic tech to feel like it has real buttons, be they rough, smooth or patterned. It doesn’t only generate different surface textures either, but also adds a ‘click’ so users know they have to press more firmly to make a selection.

“Drivers will not even need to look at the information on the screen to control it,” says Bosch – solving one of the biggest gripes of touchscreens in cars; that they can’t be controlled by feel.

Other functionality Bosch has integrated into the ‘Touch & Feel’ touchscreen include varying pressure logic: by changing how hard they press, users can control how fast they scroll through a list.

In contrast, using light pressure calls up the help function.

So how does it work? It users two sensors – the conventional touch sensor is augmented by an additional sensor that measures pressure from the fingers.

The varying surfaces are then created with a combination of software and suspension mechanics.

Delphi autonomous drive

CES 2016: The car of the future will be connected to everything

Delphi autonomous driveThe cars of the future won’t just communicate with one another: they’ll connect to everything, from traffic lights to bends in the road. Even pedestrians.

Automotive supplier Delphi is so confident of the concept, it’s even trademarked the ‘V2E’ acronym.

To get to a world with zero car crashes, says its chief technology officer Jeff Owens at CES 2016, “we will need a convergence of active safety, sensor fusion, connectivity platforms and advanced software.”

Bullishly, he claims “Delphi has proven we are the only company that has the right mix of all these”.

5 things cars will communicate with

Delphi V2E

To illustrate its V2E technology, Delphi is demonstrating a car at CES featuring five things that connected cars of the future will be connected with:

  1. Other cars – vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) comms allows Delphi’s car to see all other cars nearby – and sense if one’s about to cut you up
  2. Pedestrians – the Delphi car can send an alert to a pedestrian’s smartphone if they’re looking down at it and not watching the traffic
  3. Traffic lights – the Delphi car knows what signal’s showing on all nearby traffic lights: it thus anticipates yellows and reds
  4. The road – blind corners will no longer be blind
  5. Friends and family – drivers can notify them of their location and see if they need a lift (or simply reassure them they’re almost home)

Sounds futuristic? Not so; next year, Delphi’s launching industry-first V2V tech on the 2017 Cadillac CTS, called Super Cruise.

And if you’re not a 2017 CTS driver, Delphi has another claimed industry first: an aftermarket V2V unit that will allow any cars to communicate with one another…

Bosch CES 2016 concept car

CES 2016: Yes, automated cars WILL be on sale by 2020

Bosch CES 2016 concept carHighly automated versions of mainstream cars will go on sale by 2020 says Bosch – and it should know: the German firm will be supplying the technology and systems to many car makers that will allow them to launch these self-driving cars.

At CES 2016, Bosch is thus showcasing the very latest systems and sensors that “assume all the driver’s tasks and responsibilities” on motorways. Such ‘highly automated’ cars will drive themselves when conditions allow (similar to how the Tesla Model S is starting to do today).

The immediate benefit for us? A drop in car crashes by up to a third in Germany alone, it says.

And once high-speed, straight-road self-driving cars are here, adds Bosch, the next steps will be possible: connected cars will be able to ‘see around bends’ and anticipate dangers; proof of autonomous technology on the road will also encourage legislators to further ease legislation outlawing fully hands-off cars.

Solving many a city centre headache, Bosch also expects autonomous parking to become the norm: “It’s up to cars, not drivers, to find a parking space”.

Automated valet parking lets drivers leave cars at the entrance to a car park, for it autonomously to drive off and find a space. Call it back later with a tap of the smartphone or smartwatch.

Dash display car

Connected cars will let makers do more inside the car too. Bosch’s CES 2016 showcar has a dashboard made fully into an electronic display. It’s touch-sensitive and fully configurable; it’s also smart.

If a pedestrian walks up from the right, says Bosch, that side of the dash will flash a warning sequence. If a diary appointment is cancelled, the sat nav will auto-reprogramme it the next location. Sales reps, never make a wasted trip again.

Best of all, turn on automated driving and the sheer flexibility of the virtual dashboard will provide hours of interactive entertainment, from watching movies to checking emails.

Wrong-way warning

Bossh is also working on a ‘wrong way driver’ warning system, that alerts both drivers and other motorists within 10 seconds if a car is driving the wrong way on a road.

The system is autonomous and, as part of the Bosch MyDriveAssist smartphone app, cheap: this is why the firm’s planning to roll it out later in 2016 as a cloud service.

Further connectivity with the smart home will also bring new functionality – such as being able to unlock a safe storage spot from your car if a courier calls and you’re not in.

You’ll even confirm receipt from within the car.

Rinspeed Etos

CES 2016: Harman LIVS gives connected cars a brain

Rinspeed EtosHarman has revealed a new centralised computing platform at CES 2016 that links up the multiple high-tech systems set to multiply in tomorrow’s connected and autonomous cars.

Called LIVS – Life-Enhancing Intelligent Vehicle Solution – the system effectively gives smart cars a core ‘brain’ that integrates its in-car electronics, connectivity and operations.

Debuting in the Rinspeed Etos concept car (pictured above) that’s on show at CES 2016, Harman’s new LIVS system has more than 2,000 patents and is “boundary-pushing” technology that will allow car makers to make safe, useful and intuitive autonomous and connected cars.

Several key areas make up the LIVS system:

  • Scalable computing platforms
  • Modular connectivity
  • Camera-based driver-assist systems (ADAS)
  • Intelligent ‘learning’ navigation
  • ‘Vehicle-to-things’ (V2X) technology
  • High levels of configurability
  • Complete office suite in autonomous mode

Comprehensive indeed – and, says Harman, backed up by the Harman 5+1 safety architecture that includes ‘hypervisor’ and firewall. Hackers will be held at bay.

The big advantage of centralising everything in a core brain such as LIVS is ‘learning and anticipating’ what users will want from it. “We are demonstrating the future of driving and it is highly cohesive, personalised, intuitive and adaptive to drivers and passengers,” said Phil Eyler, president, Harman Connected Car.

It’s also safer, easier to scale up to volume production and likely to be more reliable than having multiple separate systems. Another key factor in making highly autonomous and connected cars a production reality sooner rather than later…

BMW i Vision Future Interaction

CES 2016: BMW’s ‘i Vision’ of life beyond touchscreens

BMW i Vision Future InteractionBMW is dipping its corporate toe into the water with touchscreens on the current 7 Series – but is already looking beyond touchscreen with its new i Vision Future Interaction concept at CES 2016.

This doorless concept car, based on last year’s i8 Spyder Concept, suggests touchscreens will be a single-generation thing for BMW: it instead uses AirTouch, where users control an infotainment screen using gestures.

It’s the next step on from the Gesture Control also found in the current 7 Series, BMW Group design director Adrian van Hooydonk told us. “Touchscreen are for today; this is what we’ll see tomorrow.”

BMW is the first car company to utilise gesture control in this way, and it’s all because the 21-inch panoramic new screen in the i Vision concept is so large.

“Screens are getting bigger and bigger; we found that once you get over a certain size, you have to move them away from the passengers to be easy to use.” That’s away and out of reach of passengers: hence AirTouch.

Other car makers whose screens are getting ever-larger will be looking on with interest: is this BMW setting a trend at CES 2016?

Not that it means BMW touchsreens will stall with the 7 Series, added van Hooydonk. “We will roll them out in the next few years.” It’s just that the i Vision Future Interaction suggests it’s not tech that’s long for BMW…

Asymmetric interior

BMW i Vision Future Interaction

The i Vision concept also has a new interior – clearly modelled on the i8, said van Hooydonk, but optimised to take advantage of another concept feature: highly automated driving.

BMW insists owners will still be able to drive themselves: this isn’t a ‘driverless BMW’. But where relevant, self-driving autonomy will be offered – and it’s with this in mind that the interior has been reconfigured.

Seats are now asymmetric so the driver can lean into the passenger (or the infotainment screen); almost every button has been removed from the interior; even the steering wheel slides into the dash when in piloted drive mode.

The steering will also glow blue when it’s driving itself: come to the end of the autonomous stretch of road and it starts glowing red (and slides back to the driver’s hands).

The intention is to have a driver-focused interior that can be reconfigured into a more open-plan setup where desirable.

“It’s not an autonomous cell,” said van Hooydonk; “We want the customer to decide how it’s set up according to their mood.”

BMW used to be known as ‘the ultimate driving machine’ and, as van Hooydonk stressed to us, “we still want to please the driver”. Petrolheads, relax. You’ll still enjoy the autonomous BMW of tomorrow.

BMW i Vision Future Interaction

CES 2016: BMW’s 'i Vision' of life beyond touchscreens

BMW i Vision Future InteractionBMW is dipping its corporate toe into the water with touchscreens on the current 7 Series – but is already looking beyond touchscreen with its new i Vision Future Interaction concept at CES 2016.

This doorless concept car, based on last year’s i8 Spyder Concept, suggests touchscreens will be a single-generation thing for BMW: it instead uses AirTouch, where users control an infotainment screen using gestures.

It’s the next step on from the Gesture Control also found in the current 7 Series, BMW Group design director Adrian van Hooydonk told us. “Touchscreen are for today; this is what we’ll see tomorrow.”

BMW is the first car company to utilise gesture control in this way, and it’s all because the 21-inch panoramic new screen in the i Vision concept is so large.

“Screens are getting bigger and bigger; we found that once you get over a certain size, you have to move them away from the passengers to be easy to use.” That’s away and out of reach of passengers: hence AirTouch.

Other car makers whose screens are getting ever-larger will be looking on with interest: is this BMW setting a trend at CES 2016?

Not that it means BMW touchsreens will stall with the 7 Series, added van Hooydonk. “We will roll them out in the next few years.” It’s just that the i Vision Future Interaction suggests it’s not tech that’s long for BMW…

Asymmetric interior

BMW i Vision Future Interaction

The i Vision concept also has a new interior – clearly modelled on the i8, said van Hooydonk, but optimised to take advantage of another concept feature: highly automated driving.

BMW insists owners will still be able to drive themselves: this isn’t a ‘driverless BMW’. But where relevant, self-driving autonomy will be offered – and it’s with this in mind that the interior has been reconfigured.

Seats are now asymmetric so the driver can lean into the passenger (or the infotainment screen); almost every button has been removed from the interior; even the steering wheel slides into the dash when in piloted drive mode.

The steering will also glow blue when it’s driving itself: come to the end of the autonomous stretch of road and it starts glowing red (and slides back to the driver’s hands).

The intention is to have a driver-focused interior that can be reconfigured into a more open-plan setup where desirable.

“It’s not an autonomous cell,” said van Hooydonk; “We want the customer to decide how it’s set up according to their mood.”

BMW used to be known as ‘the ultimate driving machine’ and, as van Hooydonk stressed to us, “we still want to please the driver”. Petrolheads, relax. You’ll still enjoy the autonomous BMW of tomorrow.

Nvidia Drive PX 2

CES 2016: Nvidia brings artificial intelligence into cars

Nvidia Drive PX 2Tech giant Nvidia has launched a new ‘in-car supercomputer’ at CES 2016 called Drive PX 2 that uses artificial intelligence to tackle the complexities of making truly self-driving cars work.

Offering 360-degree situational awareness, Nvidia says the highly advanced GPU (graphics processing unit) benefits from advances both in supercomputing and deep learning.

We are leveraging these,” said Nvidia co-founder and CEO Jen-Hsun Huang, “to create the brain of future autonomous vehicles that will be continuously alert, and eventually achieve superhuman levels of situational awareness.

The Drive PX2 can process inputs from 12 video cameras, lidar, radar and ultrasonic sensors, all at once. It then blends them to identify objects, work out where the car is relative to everything around it, and then calculate the exact driving route.

It can carry out 24 trillion deep learning operations per second; it’s equivalent to having 150 MacBook Pros as your car’s brain, says Nvidia.

This allows it to quickly work out surprising drive challenges such as:

  • Unexpected road debris
  • Erratic drivers
  • Roadworks
  • Poor weather
  • Difficult light (such as sunrise)
  • Extreme darkness

The latest Drive PX 2 system is ten times as powerful as last year’s first-gen Drive PX system; this is now being used by more than 50 car makers, suppliers, developers and research institutes to work on autonomous cars.

The new Drive PX 2 system will be available in late autumn 2016 – and the first car maker to use it? Volvo, which will roll out the new in-car artificial intelligence supercomputer in its self-driving XC90s early next year as part of a public trial in Gothenburg.