12 jan 24

CES 2024: the most innovative automotive technologies

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been one of the hot topics in the auto sector for the last few years, and several automakers have made their intentions clear that it will be at the core of rivalry in the coming years as they unveil their tech at CES 2024. 

CES 2024 appears as an introduction to the era of software-defined vehicles (SDVs), innovative vehicles improved in all aspects of connected cars, from navigation to advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) and entertainment, with an improved electronic architecture. 

SDVs are to be powered by next-generation Superchips, such as Intel's AI PC and NVIDIA's Drive THOR centralised car computer unveiled at CES 2024, to provide autonomous driving capabilities, boost primary features such as navigation and safety, and allow futuristic features to enhance driver and passenger experience.

Volkswagen unveils ChatGPT-powered voice assistant

ChatGPT integration to Volkswagen's in-car voice assistant called IDA. The generative AI tech will appear in the VW lineup from the second quarter of 2024, to be first available in Europe. 

VW believes that putting ChatGPT in its cars is not only to provide a more naturalistic conversation between the driver and the voice assistant but also to allow a pure hands-free feature to enrich conversations, clear up questions, interact in intuitive language, receive vehicle-specific information and more. To use the ChatGPT feature, a VW owner only needs to say, "Hello, IDA", without installing apps or opening an account. 

ChatGPT will be in conjunction with the latest generation of infotainment in models including ID.7, ID.4, ID.5, ID.3, all-new Tiguan and Passats, and Golf, says VW. 

Image: Volkswagen.

KIA teases with Platform Beyond Vehicle (PBV) lineup

Kia has been absent from CES for five years and came back with a mobility solution aligned with the company's software-to-everything (SDx) strategy. The PBV lineup includes five new electric vehicles (EVs) using the same modular system. Debuted as the Concept PV7, PV5 and PV1, the PBV system is designed to fulfil the multiple needs of the consumer and business markets. 

PV5 represents phase one of the innovation, offering various versions, including Basic Van, High Roof and Chassis Cab. In the future, Kia will produce a Robotaxi model as well. PV7 and PV1 will complement the PBV ecosystem in the future, PV7 being the largest model with related interior space and PV1 being the smallest product in the lineup. PV7 will offer an 'impressive driving range', while PV1 will be agile for short distances.

The aim is to "go beyond the traditional concept of automobiles by fulfilling the needs of diverse customers and communities", says KIA. The automaker also said that PBVs are designed to promote new businesses and lifestyles by redefining the use of space. Each vehicle has large doors and a pillarless large opening, enabling much free space. This aim is improved by the PBV modularity, a rail system on the vehicle's ceiling, floor, side panels, and exterior. Goal? Customising the car to meet individual customer needs. 

Courtesy of Kia.

Honda announces the "0 Series"

Dubbed the "Saloon" and the "Space-Hub", the two concepts of Honda '0 Series' are enough to give a taste of the futuristic experience in EVs. The two models will be launched in North America in 2026, representing Honda's commitment to next-generation electric cars. 

Honda says the 0 Series is being developed with the "Thin, Light, and Wise" approach and aims to push forward many new values, including AD/ADAS (Advanced Driving/Advanced Driver Assistance Systems) to ensure safety and a "space" made available by IoT (Internet of Things) and connected technologies, says Honda. 

The 0 Series is also committed to Honda's carbon neutrality goals, which aim to make all sales 100% EV and FCEV (fuel-cell electric vehicle) by 2040 and eliminate all greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2050. The 0 Series also reflects the transformation Honda is going through in electrification. After their debut in North America, the two futuristic models will be available in Japan, Asia, Europe, Africa and the Middle East. 

Saloon and Space-Hub concepts of Honda 0 Series. Courtesy of Honda.

Mercedes-Benz unveils the MB.OS

Another generative AI tech has shown itself to be an advanced infotainment system at CES 2024. Mercedes-Benz has upgraded its in-car voice assistant MBUX Virtual Assistant, which will run on the newest MB.OS operating system, which has been being developed for years. The improved virtual assistant can establish natural back-and-forth conversations with the driver and offer detailed information and suggestions based on the driver's request. The virtual assistant will provide details for a selected route, including parking and even the menus of the restaurants nearby. The assistant, first introduced in 2018, can also be customised according to the driver's preferences, including speaking style. 

Image: Mercedes-Benz.

BMW boost in-car digital experience with AR

BMW also improved its operating system, which can now offer generative AI and even Augmented Reality (AR) features to provide better in-car infotainment and entertainment features. The ninth version of the BMW OS focuses on three capabilities: In-car entertainment, AR experience and a better voice assistant. 

The BMW Digital Premium allows BMW customers (with OS 9) to access many entertainment apps from the BMW ConnectedDrive Store, including music and audio news. Also, the AirConsole App, enabling gamin in-car, is widened to offer more choices. The model range that can access the Videp App through BMW Digital Premium will be extended in 2024, including the BMW X2 and the MINI family. BMW expects its hard work in AR and mixed reality (MR) to bear fruit in the coming years, as XREAL Air 2 AR glasses are demonstrated for the first time at CES 2024. From navigation instructions to receiving information on charging stations, the AR glasses aim to facilitate all features of infotainment and entertainment features while adding new ones. 

Another project under development and unveiled at CES 2024 is the Large Language Model (LLM), powered by the Alexa LLM. Developed by Amazon, the BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant will offer human-like conservation, provide quick instructions and answers on vehicle functions, and control some of these functions. 

Image: BMW.

Sony and Honda present "AFEELA"

It may not be the most tempting name, but Sony and Honda are determined to move on with the concept first announced at CES last year. The technical specs about AFEELA are that the EV will have a 91 kWh lithium-ion battery and two 180 kW permanent magnet synchronous motors (PMSM). The sedan will have a fast-charging capability of up to 150 kW. 

What's different about AFEELA is that Sony Honda Mobility (a joint venture of both) has been working with big gaming companies to offer unique in-car entertainment features. AFEELA, which came on stage and was controlled by a PlayStation 5 controller, uses Unreal Engine-powered AR. The EV is equipped with an ultra-widescreen dashboard alongside ultra-wideband sensors and cameras. This allows the data captured from the environment to be converted into real-time 3D objects, enabling the driver to view their location from any angle. Autonomous parking and a thematic cabin, which can automatically change lightning, sound and display, are other futuristic-looking features of AFEELA. The EV is set to go on sale in early 2026, with a price tag of around $45,000. 

Image: Sony Honda Mobility.


The main image shows the 'Saloon' concept vehicle of Honda 0 Series, courtesy of Honda.

Authored by: Mufit Yilmaz Gokmen