A Smart Car Could Be In Your Garage Sooner Than You Imagined

Imagine driving to work, while sitting in the driving seat, reading a newspaper and drinking coffee. Such cars are closer to production for consumers than previously believed.

by Vishal Mathur - Mint, New Delhi / January 12, 2015
Hyundai’s Augmented Reality Head-Up Display and Intersection Movement System Hyundaiusa.com

(TNS) Jan. 12--Imagine driving to work, while sitting in the driving seat, reading a newspaper and drinking coffee. The car drives itself, slowing down when it needs to, changing lanes, stopping at traffic signals, and letting you make productive use of your precious rush-hour time. It may sound like something from the distant future, but the reality is that such cars are closer to production for consumers than previously believed. Car makers at the Consumer Electronics Show 2015 in Las Vegas are going all out to display their visions of the dream smart car, and how close they are to realizing it.

Audi Piloted driving

Self-driving cars are much closer to reality than what a lot of us imagined. German auto maker Audi's piloted driving system is working in an A7 3.0 TFSI Quattro sedan. It uses various production-ready sensors along with some that are already integrated in vehicles being sold globally. Adaptive cruise control (ACC) and Audi side assist (ASA) long-range and mid-range radars provide a 360 degree view. Laser scanners are integrated in the front single frame grille and the rear bumper, for detailed identification of stationary and moving objects. The system works at speeds up to 110 km/h and the car can initiate lane changes as well as overtaking manoeuvres, accelerate and brake.

Ford Sync 3 and Smart Mobility

The American car maker was using Microsoft software to run the voice-based in-car assistant for its current Sync solution (in the Ford Ecosport sold in India, for example). With Sync 3, the company now uses BlackBerry's QNX-based software. The system is designed to work with a touchscreen, which means the next Ford car you buy will not have too many buttons on the dashboard. Wi-Fi support, improved voice search and Apple's Siri-Eyes-Free features are also a part of Sync 3.

Ford is also working hard at finding solutions to global transportation challenges through 25 experiments -- 8 in North America, 9 in Europe and Africa, 7 in Asia and 1 in South America. For example, in Bengaluru, Ford is working with Zoomcar to test a sharing concept that would allow small groups, such as co-workers and families, to share one vehicle among multiple drivers. In London, the experiment includes a number of Ford Focus (Electric) and Ford Fiesta (EcoBoost) cars. Users can get directions to the nearest location, reserve a vehicle and pay through a mobile app with options to either pay by the minute or for a one-way trip.

Hyundai augmented reality HUD and BlueLink

The Korean car maker showed off the production-ready augmented reality heads up display (HUD). It features cruise control, lane departure warnings and collision warnings. It keeps a tab on the driver's heart rate, suggests breaks and can transfer navigation information to your smartphone -- in case you walk the final leg of the journey. All information is projected at a perceived virtual distance of 6 feet for better visibility. This HUD will be available in cars this year, starting with the 2015 Genesis luxury sedan sold in the US.

Hyundai's BlueLink smart watch app will work with all existing Hyundai vehicles which have the BlueLink infotainment system. This app can be installed on Android smart watches made by Samsung, Motorola, LG and Sony. The features include engine start/stop, door lock/unlock, flash lights and car finder. The next version of BlueLink will also include destination search from Google.

Volkswagen Golf R Touch

The Golf R Touch concept features infotainment systems that incorporate gesture control. Unlike most car setups that make do with two screens at the most, VW has equipped this car with three  -- a 12.8-inch infotainment touchscreen, an 8-inch touchscreen that works as the control center to control vehicle functionality and a 12.3-inch Active Information Display for climate control and media functions. The coolest part is that the touchscreen isn't really needed. Wave your hand in front of the screen to start detection, and a variety of subsequent gestures work as commands. It is believed that this concept will reduce driver distractions, while retaining ease of use.

Mercedes F015 Luxury in Motion

This concept car from Mercedes Benz runs on hydrogen fuel cells, with zero carbon emission. The F015 is an autonomous vehicle. According to Mercedes CEO Dieter Zetsche, the car's interior has been designed with the notion of bringing back the days when people traveled in groups in a horse-drawn carriage, giving them the ability to interact with each other. Six displays are installed in the instrument panel and the side walls, to keep users connected with online apps and services. The car's electric batteries have a range of 200km. Once these are spent, the hydrogen fuel cell is activated, with a range of another 900km. Mercedes says a similar car will be launched for consumers in the next few years, but the production of the F015 will start by the year 2030.


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