Intel and WB want to route future commutes through Gotham City

Can the drudgery of the morning drive into work be made better by Batman? At CES 2019, Intel is showing us that yes, yes it can.

Tim Stevens Former editor at large for CNET Cars
Tim Stevens got his start writing professionally while still in school in the mid '90s, and since then has covered topics ranging from business process management to video game development to automotive technology.
Tim Stevens
2 min read
Intel and Warner Bros. immersive entertainment

While being driven can certainly be a luxury, not everybody wants to deal with the hassle and cost of having a personal butler and driver. That, to me, is one of the most promising aspects of autonomy: all the advantages of having a driver without actually having to have a driver. But, as a Batman fan, if I had to have a driver there's only one I'd want: Alfred.

Intel and Warner Bros. immersive entertainment

Entertainment might get a whole lot more immersive in future autonomous vehicles.


Okay, Alfred is a fictional character so I'll never be able to hire him, but thanks to a tech demonstration at this year's CES in Las Vegas, Intel and Warner Bros. are showing how, some day, we might all get to have Alfred talk reassuringly to us on our morning commute. In a BMW X5 outfitted with a flotilla of displays, projectors and sensors, Intel is showing what another aspect of augmented reality might look like in an autonomous car, like those developed by Intel's Mobileye.

In the demonstration, passengers take a virtual trip into -- and through -- Gotham City. Of course, in reality they'd be driving along any road anywhere, but thanks to all the tech applied to the car (and the Warner Bros. license, of course), things look rather more fanciful.

It's a compelling idea, that of replacing reality with something more interesting, and it's exactly the kind of thing that could make long-haul road trips a lot more enjoyable for the whole family -- or similarly lengthy Los Angeles commutes, for that matter.

But this isn't just about entertainment, it's also another way for autonomous cars to communicate with passengers. In this case, its Alfred who tells occupants about road work and detours, all spun within the Batman realm in this case, but still real-world information.

Whether we'll ever see something like this in reality remains to be seen, but you can be sure that content companies will be clamoring to get their wares in front of bored commuters of the future. Partnerships like this, and indeed the one between Audi and Disney, are just the beginning. 

All the cool new gadgets at CES 2019

See all photos

Self-driving cars: Stay up to date on all the latest news in autonomy.

CES 2019 schedule: It's six days of jam-packed events. Here's what to expect.