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The road ahead – new car tech for 2017

Kwik Fit | Tuesday 10th January 2017 8:45am

CES 2017 show floor

As we bring in the new year, thoughts naturally turn to what 2017 might bring, who will make the headlines, and what developments will change the way we live our lives. When it comes to car tech, the wait to find out isn’t a long one as the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, held in January each year and now in its 50th year, gives us a sneak peek at what we might be soon be driving and the gadgets that will make the journey more pleasant, comfortable and generally more fun!

Show-goers have joked for several years now that CES should actually stand for the Car Electronics Show since so many of the major vehicle manufacturers and smaller car tech companies attend, use the show to make big announcements and show off their new designs. 2017 was no different, and with literally 100’s of new innovations on show, we’ve picked out 6 standout pieces of car tech from this year’s event.

In-Car Biometrics

While Continental may be synonymous with tyres, the German manufacturer also showed off a number of in-car tech innovations at this year’s CES from 3D dash displays to intelligent glass that can automatically tint when in direct sunlight.  One of the most interesting announcements from Continental was that the company is working on enhanced biometrics that recognise the driver to improve the driving experience. For example, an interior camera with facial recognition identifies the driver and automatically personalises a range of vehicle settings such as the seat and mirror position, temperature, preferred navigation routes and even music choice!

Security would also be enhanced. Not only would the key fob need to be on the driver’s person to gain entry but only once the driver has confirmed their identity via a fingerprint sensor on the dash will they be able to start the engine. This two-factor authentication system offers significantly enhanced protection against theft.

Virtual Assistants

Virtual assistants in the home became a little more commonplace in 2016 with big names including Google, Microsoft and Amazon all pushing their voice activated assistants to control connected home devices including lights, heating and electronics. Now it seems this technology will soon be coming to your car too as four leading car manufacturers all announced which virtual assistant would appear in their new vehicles. Both BMW and Nissan revealed that Microsoft’s Cortana would be integrated into selected vehicles in the near future while Ford plans to introduce Amazon’s Alexa shortly. Meanwhile, Hyundai made a similar announcement that it would be working with Google Assistant to introduce voice operated features to future vehicle models.

The benefit of an in-car virtual assistant is that drivers will not only be able to control certain vehicle features such as temperature control and radio stations with their voice, but also, anyone using the same virtual assistant technology in their home can now control their smart devices from the car. So now you can tell your car to turn the heating on or even put the kettle on 10 minutes before you get home.

Built-In Dash Cams

Another growing trend in 2016 was the use of dash cams to record driving footage – handy for use as evidence in the event of a crash or just shaming bad drivers on YouTube. Now PSA, the owners of Peugeot and Citroen, used CES 2017 as the platform to announce a deal with Garmin to install integrated dash cams as standard into future vehicle models. Garmin’s Intelligent Driving Video Recorder not only records driving footage that can be downloaded via an app and shared on social media, it also acts as a forward collision warning system and combats tiredness by alerting the driver if they stray from their lane.

Cars That Care

Imagine a car that monitors your physical and mental state while you drive. A car that could tell if you were angry or were feeling tired and take appropriate action as a result. That’s exactly what Hyundai are currently working on and their Healthcare Cockpit concept that was exhibited at this year’s event, showed off how a car could intervene when the driver became stressed or unhappy. Cabin temperature and music can be adjusted based on the driver’s mood or a back massage initiated if discomfort was sensed. For those suffering from a touch of road rage, the Healthcare Cockpit can help by detecting your increased heart rate (suggesting stress or anger) and letting off a mist of calming scent into the cabin. Hyundai clearly hopes that by looking after the passengers in its new smart vehicles it will create calmer, safer drivers on the road.

Seeing The Blind Spot

Front and rear parking sensors and cameras have contributed greatly to the reduction of parking related accidents over the years, warning drivers about their whereabouts and possible hazards and preventing knocks and scrapes. However, the blind spot along the side of the vehicle renders such sensors ineffective when it comes to highlighting potential side impacts…until now. Driver assistance tech company, Valeo, showed off its latest vehicle safety innovation at CES 2017 – the 360AEB Nearshield which will completely eliminate driving blind spots. Ultrasonic sensors and cameras at four positions on the vehicle provide a complete 360 degree view of the vehicle’s surroundings with the ability to detect both stationary and moving objects around the vehicle. 360AEB will also provide autonomous emergency braking so if the driver does not react to the initial alarms alerting them to hazards, the car can be brought to an automatic stop.

Valeo wasn’t the only company showing off vehicle surroundings tech at the show. Continental unveiled its 3D Flash Lidar concept - a real-time 3D vehicle monitoring radar which gives a detailed view of the vehicle’s surroundings – which it hopes will be incorporated into the future development of self-drive cars.

Going The Extra Mile… On A Scooter!

Hyundai’s Ioniq was one of many electric cars on display at this year’s show as manufacturers continue to move towards greener forms of energy to power their future vehicles. However, the Ioniq stood out thanks to a fun add-on designed to helped motorists with ‘first and last mile mobility’. Following in the footsteps of Skoda who recently added a concealed umbrella hidden in the door jamb of new Fabia, Octavia and Citigo models to help drivers combat the unpredictable British weather; Hyundai have gone one better by hiding a portable electric scooter in the door of the new Ioniq. When folded, the lightweight scooter fits inside the driver’s door which incorporates a special charging station so the scooter can be recharged while you drive.  It’s unknown how far the Ioniq scooter can travel on a single charge, however, Hyundai highlights that the concept scooter is a solution for drivers who cannot park close to their destination, allowing them to finish the journey on two wheels rather than on foot!

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