Another CES has come and gone, and transportation was still a central player on one of the world's biggest technology stages. It wasn't just electric cars that captured our attention at CES 2024.
Companies and startups have focused on automated driving, electric vehicle charging, software (more specifically artificial intelligence), sensors, aviation, boats, drones, micromobility – you name it –. Fortunately, that was the case with TechCrunch.
Here are some of the tech topics that stood out to us at CES 2024.
Everything is electric
The Big Three U.S. automakers — General Motors, Ford, and Stellantis — may not have had dazzling displays and product unveilings, but there were several other companies that helped solidify CES as a premier auto show. Turkish companies Honda, Kia, Mercedes-Benz, Sony, TOG and Finfast displayed electric concepts and production cars at the event.
It wasn't just the big automakers that had a presence at CES 2024 either. Electricity has seeped into every corner of transportation from motorcycles and electric bikes to go-karts, big rigs, boats and airplanes.
For example, Segway unveiled two e-scooters, the E2 Pro and Superscooter ST1, and two e-bikes called the Segway Xafari and Segway Xyber in addition to the Segway. Go Kart Pro 2 Which can be connected to a computer and used to play racing games like Forza.
Startups were also out in full force and could be found at a variety of CES related events like Pepcom and Unveiled. Cleveland, Ohio-based startup Land Energy is back with its e-sport bike that has a swappable battery, while the Finnish company… Verge Motorcycles Verge showed off the TS Ultra, an electric motorcycle with a hubless ring design, advanced rider-assist technology and a powertrain that produces an impressive 201 horsepower and 885 pound-feet of torque. And in Eureka Park, where hundreds of startups have set up shop, electricity was also present. One startup that caught my attention was… Solar buggya company that has developed an electric urban mobility vehicle that resembles an enclosed golf cart.
And of course there were electric planes and drones. On the startup front, Pivotal has opened online orders for its Helix personal electric drones, while autonomous drone companies Zipline and Wing have secured Huge deal with Walmart. Hyundai's advanced air mobility unit, Supernal, unveiled its electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft, and Xping Aerohat, a subsidiary of Chinese electric car maker Xping Motors, demonstrated a new concept and announced that deliveries of the land-based aircraft carrier will begin in late 2025. .
With so many electric cars out there, people might not be surprised to learn that electric car charging companies have also been around en masse. Beyond well-known charging infrastructure companies, we found startups focusing on EV charging software as well as those showcasing new approaches such as WiTricity's wireless charging technology.
Generative artificial intelligence
Even before it set foot on the show floor, TechCrunch staffers were predicting that AI would dominate CES 2024. And we weren't wrong. Artificial intelligence has been everywhere, including in transportation from cars and e-bikes to scooters and electric aviation.
There have been a lot of companies promoting artificial intelligence. Although there's a lot of steamrolling out there, several companies have shown how software is increasingly incorporating AI to deliver (hopefully) more capable products, including vehicle sensors, voice assistants in cars, and self-driving systems.
There's also been a lot of talk about generative AI, and more specifically, ChatGPT, AI-powered chatbots using large deep learning models trained on massive data sets. I've reviewed two ChatGPT demos: one with BMW and one in collaboration with software company Cerence and Volkswagen.
Volkswagen has announced plans to add an artificial intelligence-powered chatbot to all Volkswagen models equipped with its IDA voice assistant.
Meanwhile, BMW and partner Amazon showcased a development project that uses generative AI, powered by Alexa LLM, to give the automaker's voice assistant greater capability and deliver information in a more human and conversational way.
Hydrogen energy is not new, however, and has taken a backseat recently relative to traditional battery-powered electric vehicles. Don't tell anyone at CES 2024, where this year's show floor was packed with hydrogen-powered vehicles of all sizes.
Hyundai, which has a growing lineup of battery electric vehicles, came to CES to talk about hydrogen fuel cells and its vision for alternative fuels. Nikola finally showed off one of the first U.S.-made hydrogen trucks that it has begun shipping to customers, and Bosch, which already makes hydrogen fuel cells (like the ones Nikola uses in its truck), announced that it will make an engine that can burn hydrogen . Truck maker PACCAR also showcased a hydrogen-powered truck.
We also met other hydrogen-focused startups who were walking the halls meeting with media, potential investors, and industry insiders. Croft Motors was one of the companies we came across. The startup is developing “rugged” hydrogen-powered vehicles, starting with a prototype of a three-row SUV with an expected driving range of 1,000 miles.
In-cabin hardware meets software
Automakers, auto suppliers and even some startups have shown their own vision of the car interior. Yes, there were plenty of touchscreens, including the popular curved design.
In-car technology extends beyond this into the areas of safety, health assessments and entertainment. Eye tracking technology was everywhere. For example, Harman demonstrated its branded Ready Care system, which can measure a driver's eye activity, cognitive load and vital signs to determine the level of focus and attention on the road ahead.
A number of companies also showcased how devices such as cameras and other sensors that were previously used for safety purposes are now being leveraged for other, more convenience-focused services. Bosch showed how eye-tracking technology can be used while driving to see what points of interest you're looking at, and the car can provide contextual information.
Meanwhile, Mercedes has introduced a full suite of features that when combined create a complete experience for the driver and passengers, including an upgraded voice assistant, in-car games, immersive audio, and an app developed by will.i.am's new SoundDrive company. It matches the throttle, brakes and steering to a sort of multi-channel smart mixer that influences the songs played in the car.
My takeaway: Companies realize that drivers and passengers are a captive audience, so to speak. And they're all working on ways to bring all the technology in our phones and homes to the car.
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