Gogoro Smartscooter revolutionises charging
The main issue with electric vehicles (the now 400-mile-range Teslas aside) is that the pesky things have to be charged. A lot. And that is tedious and takes bloody ages. Scooter startup Gogoro reckons they have the answer to that, with their funky electric Smartscooter. So rather than park up and plug a lead in, the company proposes universal charging stations continually juicing up batteries. So you skid up, pluck your spent battery out, replace it with a charged one, then go on your way, weaving in and out of traffic. All it needs, then, is a multimillion pound, standards agreed, citywide infrastructure and we’re good to go!
Nvidia aim to power all future cars
The chip chaps’ “Drive” tech is a two-pronged assault on cornering the automated driving space. Powered by their new Tegra X1 “super chip”, Drive PX crunches the input from 12 high definition cameras to autopilot your chariot, while Drive CX supplies the dash and infotainment, turning your car into “The most advanced digital cockpit computer in the world.” Indeed, Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang predicted (rather safely, actually) that “There'll be more computing horsepower inside a car than anything you currently own today.”
BMW’s innovation avalanche
The German luxury car manufacturer pulled out a hatful of news at CES. First was a self-parking i3 electric supermini which tootles off and finds a space at the touch of a Samsung Gear S smartwatch app. Next, they demonstrated its anti-collision tech, gesture recognition for the iDrive system, a credit card that unlocks the car on your approach using NFC and finally, an inductive charging system that starts juicing the car the second it comes to rest above a magnetic field-generating coil housed in a floor plate. This’ll charge an i8 hybrid, for instance in under two hours, and the all-electric i3 overnight.
Audi drives to the show. With no driver
With mostly chubby media on board, frowning and scribbling for 100-mile stints, Audi decided to make the 560-mile journey from Silicon Valley to the show floor in Las Vegas in its A7 3.0 TFSI Quattro Sportback, with the car driving itself. California state law still stipulates that an engineer needs to be present in the passenger seat, but “Jack”, as they’ve arbitrarily dubbed it, drove most of the journey on its own, using a combination of adaptive cruise control, Audi side assist and an array of sensors including long and mid-range radar, laser scanners fore and aft, four cameras and one 3D camera to eat up roads, change lanes and generally drive better and more politely than most Audi owners at speeds up to 70mph.
Chevrolets to tell you when they’re about to break down
If you have the sneaking suspicion that your car is becoming smarter than you, well done! You’re officially a member of the paranoid, tin hat brigade. But this isn’t going to help. Chevrolet has announced that future cars will stream data from their sensors to the American manufacturer’s corner of the Cloud, where their servers will analyse, crunch the data and predict when a part is likely to fail. Then tell you such in good time to get thee to a mechanic. He’ll still kiss his teeth and kick the tyres before telling you it’ll be a million pounds. But, you know, progression.
The world’s fastest electric car unveiled
First shown to the world at the 2013 Shanghai Motor Show, Detroit Electric has finally settled on exterior and interior designs for its SP:01 supercar, and can now focus on manufacturing and, more importantly, hitting the target of being the world’s fastest production electric car. Detroit Electric is HQed in the iconic Fisher Building, located in downtown Detroit, USA, but the cars will be tested and manufactured in slightly less iconic – but no less salubrious – Leamington Spa, Warwickshire. The figures? 0 to 60mph in 3.7 seconds which is, of course, the same as a Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4.
Golf goes gesture control
Volkswagen delighted drivers with their fastest ever Golf, the R, announced at the 2013 Frankfurt Motor Show and now they’re delighting we nerds with the Golf R Touch, a concept car which stuffs in three monitors: 12.8-inch and 8-inch centre displays, alongside a 12.3-inch instrument cluster a bit like Tesla’s huge touchscreen. The later, haptic screen takes the place of the car’s dials, giving a buzzy feedback so you don’t have to glance down, but meanwhile, cameras mounted inside the car allow you to trigger commands via gesture recognition, turning up the stereo, moving tracks along and such with a wave of palm off steering wheel. Hopefully they’ve coded out the middle finger raise followed by “ketchup bottle shake” when you get cut up.
Start your Hyundai with your watch
Continuing the smartwatch trend of swapping your perfectly good mobile phone app for, well, a smart watch, Hyundai have extended their BlueLink connected car platform to push to Androidwear smartwatches. So now you can unlock, start and find your car in a car park straight from your wrist. If the battery hasn’t run out yet. Obviously.
Parrot makes all cars smart cars
This is the not-to-be-called RNB 6, and it’s an Android and iOS compatible smart touch screen centre, that will slide into any car’s standard, double DIN-sized CD player slot, instantly turning any old rust bucket into a tech-brimming smart Alec. Add voice recognition, satnav, inputs for dash cams, rear view cams, HDMI, Bluetooth and wifi, even on board engine diagnostics and you’ll struggle not to connect all the tech currently in your house.
Toyota opens up its hydrogen fuel cell patents
Companies spend GDPs of entire nations researching and aggressively protecting their patents, so giving them up is a huge deal. Toyota are so convinced of the importance of hydrogen powered cars that they’ve done just that, releasing 5,680 fuel cell related patents held globally including, they describe “critical” technologies relating to their new Mirai motor. The list includes approximately 1,970 patents related to fuel cell stacks, 290 associated with high-pressure hydrogen tanks, 3,350 related to fuel cell system software control and 70 patents related to hydrogen production and supply. Go! Other interested car manufacturers! Make water our future!
Harman compartmentalise car audio
How it’ll all work seems to still be a bit woolly, but car audio specialist Harman has launched Individual Sound Zones, an "in-cabin technology that enables drivers and passengers to create sonic zones, ensuring that all occupants only hear what matters to them”. The idea being that drivers only hear satnavs or their squawking wives telling them they’ve missed the turn, while passengers sit in the back in relative peace and quiet, watching a Game Of Thrones DVD or listening to Ed Sheeran. It does this by maximising speaker directivity and minimising crosstalk. We think.
Mercedes self driving concept
This fine-looking thing is Mercedes’ F 015 Luxury In Motion concept and it’s their gaze into the crystal ball of our seemingly inevitable driverless car future. So it’s an autonomous driver, natch, weights 40 per cent less than a comparable car through specification of carbon fibre reinforced plastic, aluminium and steel. While inside, four individual “lounge chairs” are accessed via twin, rear-hinged doors that open to 90 degrees. These seats swivel by 30 degrees to allow easy entry for the porkiest of passenger, then the front two turn – like a road-going version of The Voice – to face the passengers when the car’s in auto mode. And all with so much connectivity that Mercedes describe it as a “mobile living space”.