Driverless Roundup: CES 2019

Bob Violino

Caption: Hyundai MOBIS showcases its latest infotainment and cockpit experience at CES 2019. Photo courtesy of Hyundai MOBIS.

Autonomous vehicles and related technologies were once again in the spotlight at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. Here’s a roundup of some of the more notable announcements.

Nvidia and Mercedes-Benz Collaborate on Next-Gen Vehicles

Chipmaker Nvidia announced that Mercedes-Benz has selected the company to help realize its vision for next-generation vehicles.

In front of a crowd at CES, Sajjad Khan, Mercedes-Benz executive vice president, and Jensen Huang, Nvidia founder and CEO, outlined their plans for next-generation cars supported by artificial intelligence (AI) and the new breed of mobility products they will enable.

Nvidia is “creating a computer that defines the future of autonomous vehicles, the future of AI and the future of mobility,” Huang said at CES. The system will provide self-driving capabilities and smart-cockpit functions that will replace dozens of smaller processors inside current cars.

The partnership between the companies builds on a long-term collaboration. At CES 2018, the pair unveiled the cockpit of the future, Mercedes-Benz User Experience, which “infuses AI into everyday driving.” The feature is now included in seven car models and nine more are being added this year.

Hyundai MOBIS Introduces New Autonomous Driving Technologies

Automotive supplier Hyundai MOBIS introduced several new autonomous driving, eco-friendly, intelligent lighting, and infotainment and cockpit experience technologies.

Among the new innovations from the company are Virtual Touch Technology, interior infotainment controls capable of recognizing a driver’s gestures in the air instead of requiring a touch-screen. For example, in one given scenario, a driver could watch a movie on autonomous driving mode and use tap gestures in the air to select other movies or adjust the volume.

Another feature is Emotional Recognition Technology, an AI platform that automatically categorizes a driver’s or passenger’s emotions and alters the interior ambiance of the vehicle accordingly, catering to various moods while sharing the emotions of drivers or passengers in nearby vehicles also equipped with the same technology. The company says this can help avoid potential accidents among disengaged or distracted drivers.

In other lighting news, Hyundai MOBIS showcased its latest Communication Lighting concept. Communication Lighting uses an “Indicating Lighting Zone” to indicate when an autonomous vehicle is operating in self-driving mode. It includes a Communication Lighting Zone that uses LED, digital boards, headlamp projection and sound to communicate with nearby pedestrians and vehicles during a variety of driving scenarios. The company says it’s developing the concept to reduce the number of accidents related to use of autonomous vehicles.

Lastly, Hyundai MOBIS unveiled Hydrogen Fuel Cell Technology that generates electricity by combining hydrogen injected with fuel and oxygen, to power a vehicle that emits only pure water.

Udelv Unveils Latest Self-Driving Delivery Van

Udelv introduced the latest model of its Newton self-driving delivery vans and announced strategic partnerships with Walmart, Baidu, Marubeni and others.

The newest model of Newton is an advanced autonomous delivery van (ADV) that is the result of close collaboration between Udelv and Baidu, which also released its latest open autonomous driving platform at CES, Apollo 3.5.

Udelv says it will continue to leverage future versions of the Apollo platform modules to create its own autonomous driving algorithms for a variety of delivery applications. Already, Udelv’s first generation ADV model has successfully completed more than 1,200 deliveries in the San Francisco Bay Area for multiple clients, according to the company.

Daimler Rolls Out Enhanced Automated Truck

Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA) announced what it says is the first SAE Level 2 automated truck in series production in North America. Level 2 automation means the truck can perform lateral (steering) as well as longitudinal (acceleration/deceleration) control.

Automating acceleration, deceleration and steering reduces the likelihood of human error and collisions, the company says. The new technology in the trucks can also enhance driver experience by making the task of driving easier, and thereby improving comfort, DTNA says.

The company’s expertise in automation is backed by affiliate Daimler Trucks, which announced at CES that it’s investing more than half a billion dollars and creating more than 200 new jobs in its global effort to put highly automated trucks — those at SAE Level 4 — on the road within a decade.

Author Bob Violino is a freelance writer who covers a variety of technology and business topics. Follow him on Twitter.

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