CES 2017 and Detroit: Drink car tech from the firehose (CNET on Cars, Ep. 103)
The tech show that looks like a car show, and the car show that looks like a tech show.
Let's hit the Detroit auto shell and the consumer electronics shell and check the tech.
We see cars differently.
We love them on the road and under the hood but also check the tech and
And are known for telling it like it is.
Ugly is included at no extra cost.
The good, the bad, the bottom line.
This is Cnet On Cars.
Welcome to Cnet On Cars, the show all about high-tech cars and modern driving.
I'm Brian Cooley, as you can see coming to you on the road in Detroit at the North American International Auto Show.
And we do this every year, we start it off
By drinking from a fire hose.
Not only here, but at the just concluded Consumer Electronics Show.
We're gonna jump back to Vegas in just a moment.
But first, let's get a quick spin around the hall here in downtown Detroit and see what kind of tech related announcements caught my eye from the local teams, the Detroit three.
[SOUND] Now the electric Chrysler Portal actually debuted at CES before Detroit.
And probably holds the title as the most interesting thing that came out of this city though not at this city.
It's clearly an electric Pacifica with split sliding doors we'll never really see.
Lots of very well integrated displays inside.
And they envision facial and voice recognition to know who you are and customize the car for you on the fly.
Ford refreshed the F-150, with a long-awaited 3 litre V6 turbo diesel, by the way it already supplies that to Land Rover for the Range Rover and Range Rover Sport.
Ten speed automatic also got announced for the new truck, another shared technology, this time co-developed with GM.
Automatic emergency braking is unusual in a truck, and Ford says adaptive cruise control is only In their full sized pickup.
Nice styling on this new look GMC Terrain 2018.
Behind the handsome face, only high tech engines.
Not big ones.
A 1.6 liter turbodiesel.
And a one and a half liter an two liter turbo gas engine choice.
All coupled to nine speed automatics interestingly, notice the shifter technology.
A set of push buttons in a row, low on the center stack, quite unique.
And behind that, an easy knob selector to choose the terrain you're facing.
Those are interesting choices at a time when FCA, one of their competitors, is facing a couple of investigations as to whether or not rotary shifts are not obvious and positive enough.
For all drivers to use safely.
Now we're going to see more here in Detroit in just a moment.
But before we do that, let's look at a common thread that I spotted between here and the CES show in Las Vegas.
And that is reducing distractions from the texts at both of these shows are really big on.
And there's a new government initiative that is starting to address at the formal level how our cars and our mobiles dance with each other.
And those forming regulations are of great interest to the smarter driver.
All the pretty cars.
Each one of them a killer, potentially.
35,000 people died in car accidents in the US in 2015, the most recent year we have numbers for.
And by the way, that number bounced up To a level we haven't seen since exiting 2008.
But a full 10% of those involve at least one driver being distracted.
And 16% of the 5.6 million non-fatal crashes involve distractions.
Sure, carmakers put a lot of pretty buttons and fascinating little screens in there that do tend to grab our eyes but You know the other big culprit that's really the wild west, it's the mobile that you bring into the car.
So new U. S. federal propose guidelines have just arrived aimed specifically at what we do with portables and aftermarket gear in the car.
First, the Feds want easy and seamless pairing so it's not so optional as it is now.
Every phone in every car will recognize each other and go into a special relationship.
Which leads to number two, the phone will automatically go into driver mode when it detects that it's in a car.
That's when the screen is blank and only the driving relevant content gets projected to the cars screen and control By the cars.
Touch, voice, or tactile interface.
And that means, no video playback while you're driving, no looking at photos on Instagram.
No scrolling text menus, and no deep text, like Facebook posts, or ebooks.
Even some ads might be under fire.
And then number three, the trickiest part.
Developing a common tech between cars and mobiles, They can tell when there's a phone in the car, but also tell if it's in the driver's hands or a passenger's and not blocking it in the latter case.
I don't know of any system like that on the market right now.
The nice thing about regulators is sometimes they can really encourage investment and development of smart, new technology.
This may be one of those cases.
Now if all of this sounds kinda familiar, it's because there's a lot of shared DNA by coincidence with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which at least had that projection part very similarly nailed.
The sensing is still TBD, but another platform to watch along those lines is the just announced SMARTDEVICELINK CONSORTIUM cofounded initially by Ford here and Toyota.
Mazda is also going to be involved, and I suspect a lot of automakers who want to handle this dance between mobiles and cars, but without one of the Silicon Valley giants sticking their nose in there and doing it for them.
Now when I come back, I'm gonna show you my favorite technologies from the consumer electronics show in Vegas, as well as a few that are happening here at Detroit, that I think might be under covered amidst all the glitz and glamour of sheet metal.
Panel when CNET on Cars returns.
Well last year here at CES Faraday arrives with a car nobody was asking for, another supercar.
To be honest, we have plenty of those in the world, and the cynical audience at CES kind of asked, what does she got?
This is it, the FF 91 in a sense isn't a car, it's a whole line of cars.
They say they've broken new design language to build several automotive form factors, or shapes, into one.
If you look at it, you can see a cross over, a hatch back, a premium sporty GT, and luxury Sedan.
Now even though this isn't a super car, it's got some super numbers.
A thousand horsepower plus going out to all four wheels.
378 miles of range.
0 to 60 in 2.4 seconds Notably, a tenth faster than a model S in ludicrous mode.
That's not by accident.
Choked with sensors, 3D lidar, 10 high-def cameras, 13 long and short range radars and 12 ultra sonic sensors and they're also among many that are seeing keyless access of the type that uses your smartphone proximity.
And facial and maybe even voice recognition to authorize you to operate this thing.
[UNKNOWN] one of the first cars that really doesn't have a key of any kind.
This guy's not expected til 2018 or so, and probably priced up at close to 200,000 to start.
Now to be honest this company has the stink of vapor around With a far from finished factory, idealistic plans for direct factory sales had some troubling employee departures lately.
2017 will be a year for Faraday to prove it's real.
Nevermind the car itself.
Now here's an idea I've been waiting for available for our cars ever since we saw it on the Cadillac CT6.
This is from Gentex.
It's call the FDM, the full display mirror.
It is a video mirror that sees through the back with a camera.
Now you may say, okay, what's the big idea?
Because it makes the back of the car go away, that's the point.
Head rests, body work, everything behind you virtually vanishes and you get a pure view of what's behind you.
This is what mirrors should have been years ago, but now it's finally doable and practical.
Now this is the current one coming out.
Versus what they've been supplying to General Motors, almost identical.
You'll be able to buy this and install it in a car on an aftermarket basis.
By the way, if you're nervous about electronics failing, this is still a regular mirror.
When you flick it that way, now it's just a mirror.
you see me night there.
Pull it this way, and youre in the future mode.
So, you're always covered.
Now here's what's coming next.
This is their generation two, probably late 2018.
You can wire this guy to pick up signals from any number of other sorts of cameras or services in the vehicle.
You've also got some in mirror processing going on where they can reduce fog and haze.
It's one thing to have day night but that's pretty primitive.
That's about all mirrors do right now.
What if you could cut haze, cut fog, reduce that annoying flicker from increasingly popular LED headlights?
You guys **** about it in all of my videos all the time.
We can't do anything about them but this mirror could.
And you can also see an example here of smartphone integration and luckily they're thinking out of the box of it being a bluetooth wireless idea Unlike certain other companies I can think of who have yet to make a wireless option for their in-car nav interface on a phone.
You know who I'm talking about.
Now if you want to go deeper in the future here's something that they're envisioning for factory installation a few years in the future.
Look what's happening here.
In the middle is your rearview mirror.
On the sides in the upper corners are virtual sideview mirrors.
Those are being fed by cameras mounted on very small mirrors that are still on the car, but to become very thin and light to reduce aerodynamic drag.
Meanwhile, you get a whole bunch of interesting possible choices and compositions on this mirror.
And notice that those yellow bars, those indicator blind spot warnings, so that's been rolled in here as well.
And in the future, this can be adaptive.
Where the little side view part, only shows up when it's needed.
When there's nothing in your blind spot, they go away.
So, Q1 2017 for the initial FDM and late 2018 for this generation two with more features integratable into it.
An idea that time is here.
Meet my new friend Yuejia.
Yuejia is a Toyota concept of a A relationship really that you may have with a future self driving car.
Warning, a car is coming.
What it's doing is talking to you in a way to keep engaged with you during self-driving.
As well as giving you an amazing 3D heads up presentation as you can see.
Now, the reason this car is going to have this relationship with you is for many reasons.
Well, one of the key ones was outlined by the head of Toyota Research Institute Gill Pratt, who says that sometimes a little distraction of the right kind is safer in a car that may have to throw back to you control of the wheel and the pedals.
Because that way your mind hasn't drifted too far.
You've stayed somewhat involved in the vehicle.
Considerable research shows that the longer a driver is disengaged from the task of driving, the longer it takes for that driver to reorient and get back into driving.
At TRI we think that [UNKNOWN], the concept eye agent, might not only be a way to engage with human beings and provide useful advice to the driver.
We think it might also be a way to modulate and maintain a driver's situational awareness using mild, secondary tasks to promote safety.
And what I like about this is that Toyota is not yet proclaiming what level of self-driving is gonna make sense in the future.
They're being honest about it, saying, hey we got to explore them all.
But no matter what they believe there's gonna be a need for a relationship interface to make whatever level it is work best, and most safely.
You should have a wonderful drive on the road ahead.
Now beyond the UE demonstration, listen to a few minutes of Toyota Research Institute's view of what it will take to figure out autonomy.
It's very cogent and one of the best tech talks I've heard at CES Mission is focused on artificial intelligence.
It includes four goals.
First, we're dedicated to greatly enhancing vehicle safety.
And some day creating a car that is incapable of causing a crash, regardless of the abilities of the driver.
Second, our goal is to greatly increase mobility access For those who presently can not drive.
Third we plan to heavily invest in robotics to move people not only across towns but also within their homes from room to room and help them to age in place.
And finally we have a goal to accelerate discovery in materials science by applying techniques from artificial intelligence And machine learning.
Society tolerates a lot of human error.
We are, after all, only human.
But we expect machines to be much better than us.
What if the machine was twice as safe as a human driven car?
If 17,500 lives were lost in the U.S. every year At the hands of a machine.
Would we accept this kind of autonomy?
Emotionally, we don't think so.
Historically, human beings have shown nearly zero tolerance for injury or death caused by flaws inside of a machine.
Handoff, of course, is the operative term and a difficult challenge In level three as defined by the FAE the autonomy must ensure that if it meets the handoff control of the car it will give the driver sufficient warning.
Additionally level three must also ensure that it will always detect any condition that requires such a handoff.
It turns out that maintaining this kind of awareness that's required while engaged in monitoring tasks has been well-studied for 70 years.
Research psychologists call this the vigilance decrement.
The research started during World War II when it became clear that radar operators looking for enemy movement Became less effective as their shift wore on.
Even if they kept their eyes on the task it turns out that we're finding some evidence that certain activities, and this does not include texting so please don't misunderstand, seem to reduce the vigilance detriment over time.
We're actually finding that some mild secondary task, may actually help to maintain situational awareness, despite time going on.
At TRI we think that Yuejia, the concept eye agent, might not only be a way to engage with human beings and provide useful advice to the driver.
We think it might also be a way To modulate and maintain a driver situational awareness using mild secondary tasks to promote safety.
Perhaps for example UE could engage the driver in a conversation that would reduce the vigilance decrement the way talking on the two way radio or even looking for speed traps seems to do with truck driver.
We think that the agent might be even more effective because Yuli would be coupled to the autonomy system in the car, which would be constantly monitoring the car's environment both inside and out, merging human and vehicle situational awareness.
We're not sure but at TRI we're aiming to find out.
When it comes to minivans the biggest bear in the woods is Honda's Odyssey.
Number one seller out there in a very tough, competitive market.
And here's a major refresh of the Odyssey.
Here's a new model for 2018.
That as you can see gets me to say something I didn't think I'd ever say until very recently.
More importantly though, Honda's almost freakishly good about coming up with in cabin innovations that make sense for families with kids.
Remember a couple years ago the in van shop vac?
Really great for sucking up those errant fruit loop that kids throw around Well they've continued on that page now.
Not with a vacuum, but with a in-headliner camera that can keep an eye on the second and third row seats when your little kids are back there or your teens are all sullen because they hate your guts.
They've also got a PA system that can either speak through the cabin over a speaker or into the wireless headphone system.
This is your mother.
We'll be flying at a speed of 25 mpg.
Estimated time of arrival at school is in just about 20 minutes.
In the meantime, sit back and enjoy your juice box.
Now going beyond that, a little more practical, less electronic, sliding crossways.
Think about how convenient that can be for bolting kids in or for getting access to the rear quarters of the vehicle.
Now Infiniti made a big deal about their QX50 concept launch.
I'm more intrigued by the engine they envision putting in it.
It's got variable compression ratios but not using valve timing or some other sort of nuanced thing.
They're going down on the bottom end and doing completely different mechanical architecture and basically to my eyes and engine with dual connecting rods.
They're able to achieve as low as an eight to one compression ratio for efficiency and economy or as high as a 14 to 1 compression ratio when you really want to get some bang out of this thing.
It's kind of refreshing and definitely intriguing to see such heavy iron engineering being used to create efficiency in engines these days.
And it was kind of hudapalooza here in Detroit, the new Lexus LS was shown of with an option for 24 inch Head up display.
New Camry, a ten inch HUD.
Audi's Q8 near production concept, showing an augmented reality HUD.
So things like NAV directions on the windshield would look an awful lot like a Fidelity commercial.
Now of all those XT90's, of course, the biggest Volvo.
But what they announced around it was one of the biggest announcements here.
The official launch of Drive Me.
They have now started to deploy 100 self driving XC90s to 100 real families in and around Gothenburg, Sweden, the capitol, where they are going to be allowed to use these cars everyday.
This is amazing stuff.
Now our Tim Stephens was able to sample this about a year ago when it was still in beta.
He came away impressed.
And now that it's fully real in the hands of actual folks It's even more impressive.
Know that Volvo is very focused on safety first, right?
So for them to do this, puts the real feather in the real feather in the cap of autonomy for the entire industry.
They even brought over the first family to get one of these guys.
And they stood there, a little awkwardly on the stage, but charming nonetheless.
I'll be eager to see what kind of feedback they get through 2017.
So I hope you noticed a few trends going on between these two giant shows.
The electrification of cars, that's becoming almost boring it's so common.
Connectivity, ditto, but notice how the regulators and the car makers are trying to figure out how to make that less of a wild west.
And autonomy, no one's not talking about it.
2020, 2021, half the car makers here say they will have at least one model that does that.
On the market and in showroom, we got a heck of a 2017 coming up.
Thanks for watching, as usual.
Good to have you here for another year, and I'll see you the next time we check the deck.