CES 2021 continues to be a bright source of innovation
Posted by: Lydia on 29/01/2021
The annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is looked forward to by technology enthusiasts all over the world. Even amidst the Covid-19 pandemic, CES 2021 pushed on in a virtual format. Lots of new technology was showcased that could soon benefit vehicles across the whole industry — from new energy sources, to cutting-edge driver aids, to concept creations that seek to redefine how we use our autos altogether.
Unquestionably, one of the greatest aspects of all the goodies on show at CES 2021 was how diverse they were. The auto world is not just seeing huge gains made in one area of vehicle design and engineering, but in many areas simultaneously. Here's a look at the most exciting auto innovations unveiled at CES 2021.
1. Panasonic’s HUD Display
Panasonic's new HUD Display is seeking to bring Augmented Reality (AR) to everyday driving.
The Japanese tech giant's new display would provide information directly in front of the driver’s eye on the front windscreen. As well as information surrounding car speed and distance to the destination, this HUD would use Artificial Intelligence (AI) to identify important objects in the driver’s surroundings, such as cyclists. This will provide an increase in safety across the board.
As well as providing the potential to identify hazards coming close to the vehicle before the driver’s own eyes may see them, this HUD’s display of the information on the windscreen will reduce the need for drivers to momentarily take their eyes off the road ahead. This would minimise the danger of any incident occurring due to the driver looking at their speedometer or touch screen below eye level, or a touch screen GPS mounted elsewhere.
2. The Next Generation of Ultium Batteries
A key challenge for auto manufacturers in the 2020s is making inroads in new energy sources.
While this current generation of electric vehicle (EV) is powered via very different technology than a traditional petrol-powered auto, there certainly remains a quest for further improvements in this area. It’s here that General Motors’ development of the next generation ultium battery is so interesting. GM claims this battery will offer a 60% cost improvement compared to the tech found in a current generation Bolt EV.
It's already a great innovation that this new generation of ultium batteries will be more efficient, but they’ll also make car design easier. As the battery cells can be stacked horizontally or vertically within the battery pack — something GM claims is unique within the industry at present — car designers can optimise the space inside the vehicle. Over time, this could help create EVs that are better designed, weigh less, and become more energy-efficient as a result.
3. The Solar Car
In recent years, the EV has seen rapid growth alongside the increase in solar power in the energy market. The rapidly falling cost of the latter is credited as a key reason for this — with the cost of solar falling a whopping 82% between 2010 and 2020 — and has served as motivation for those looking to bring together the EV and solar power into one unit. Finally, at CES 2021, it appears some dreamers have done it.
Sweden’s Sono Motors seeks to bring their solar-powered car to European roads as soon as 2022. Although the Sion won’t be powered exclusively by solar — with the solar tech instead set to extend existing battery life by around 30 kilometres on a sunny day — this innovation represents a fantastic step forward for solar’s future role in powering vehicles. It's also set to be a very stylish vehicle, with the solar panels blending into the black hue of the exterior paint job for a car that’ll certainly turn heads — but won’t look out of place in the local supermarket car park.
4. The e-VTOL Air taxi
The e-VTOL evidences General Motors’ aspiration to take travel to new heights — literally. The electrical vertical taxi concept could eventually result in the next generation of Aussies setting aside the cars we use on our roads, and instead using a vehicle that could take to the skies.
Such an idea may seem many years away from being possible, but similar technology is set to arrive sooner than many may think — and Australia is set to be one of the first places in the world to see it work. In June 2019, Uber announced that Melbourne would be the first pilot city of its new ‘flight sharing’ venture. In time, it’s expected the city will have at least 1000 air vehicles in their fleet carrying passengers across the city.
From Mere Idea to Mass-Use
Many of these technologies seen at CES 2021 will take time to develop. Many of them are the dreams of designers and engineers who have had a vision in mind for years, and have only recently had the ability to start converting the idea into a real outcome.
Furthermore, as well as the need for many auto innovations to continue refinement in the factory, there are subsequent hurdles that must be cleared once the technology is ready to go. For auto innovations such as an air taxi, it’s fair to say there will be a number of regulatory hurdles that they will need to clear before they could become a machine in mass-use across the world.
But this should not diminish the achievements and innovations seen at CES 2021. In fact, it’s very the opposite. We’re now beginning to see the foundations of the next giant leap in auto technology, with actual machines and tech capabilities arriving that only science-fiction writers discussed decades ago. So even if many of the innovations detailed here won’t be available tomorrow in Australia, it’s terrific to know we really don’t have long to wait until they’ll be available given the great progress seen at CES 2021.
What other auto innovations from CES 2021 were you excited about? Let us know in the comments below.