In my 28 consecutive years of trekking to Las Vegas for CES each January, I can definitely say that this year’s show hit a high water mark in terms of the scale and significance of car technology unveiled at the show as well as the attention it received. I asserted last year that at CES 2015 car tech was the only source of true innovation at the show, and the case was made even stronger in 2016, as automakers and their tech suppliers doubled-down in Las Vegas and as a result stole the media spotlight.
Autonomous driving repeated its front and center position at CES, but trends such as personalization of the driver experience via cloud connectivity and a further expansion into smart mobility by some of the biggest players in the automotive tech space also stood out. After a week of canvassing the Las Vegas Convention Center and visiting numerous offsite suites and press conferences, here are my personal highlights of a CES that was one for the car tech record books.
While it would have been difficult for Mercedes-Benz to top the unveiling of its head-turning autonomous F 015 concept at CES 2015, this year the automaker debuted the 2017 E-Class, the first “standard-production” vehicle to receive an autonomous license from Nevada. Mercedes said that while other driverless cars licensed by the Silver State require extra sensors or other modifications, the production E-Class already has fully autonomous technology, and that engineers only need to tweak the control software before the vehicle is ready to hit road.
Other self-driving developments had more to do with the hardware and software enabling technology. For example, Nvidia released its second-generation Drive PX 2 self-driving computer which will control future self-driving vehicles with 12 CPU cores and 8 teraflops worth of processing power – the equivalent to 150 MacBook Pros – and can achieve 24 trillion operations a second.
Mobileye, the dominant camera supplier for most of the automotive industry, announced at CES that it struck deals with GM and VW to supply mapping data for the automakers’ self-driving car efforts. Here, the mapping provider that was recently purchased by Audi , BMW and Mercedes-Benz also showed its new HD Live Map platform for autonomous driving that it says is accurate down to 10-20 centimeters/4-7 inches.
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