CES 2019: User experience, autonomous vehicles and mobility solutions

Automotive trends lead to new vehicle use cases and features



BMW Vision iNEXT concept

  CES 2019 was held from January 8 through January 11, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S. OEMs and suppliers showcased both production-ready systems and technological concepts, with approximately 300,000 square feet dedicated to the automotive industry.

  One common theme at CES 2019 was enriching the in-car experience. Companies including Kia, Aisin, Hyundai Mobis, and Toyota Boshoku, showed systems that could analyze a passenger’s emotional state, and then enable systems in response. Audi’s in-car entertainment system transforms the vehicle from a transportation medium to a sensory entertainment experience. The BMW Vision iNEXT demonstrated Shy Tech, discreet vehicle control technology which blends in with the vehicle’s interior.

  Autonomous driving was another point of emphasis. Displays showcased a variety of systems related to autonomous driving development, from the autonomous Chrysler Pacifica developed by Waymo for testing and data-gathering purposes, to a system integration concept developed by Magneti Marelli for autonomous vehicles. Honda displayed several autonomous robots that could support people in various scenarios.

  Regarding the theme of mobility solutions, various companies exhibited solutions for an urban environment, including Mercedes-Benz’s Urbanetic, Kia’s SEED Car, Continental’s CUbE, and ZF’s e.GO Mover. Hyundai unveiled a prototype of the Elevate concept at its press conference, a wheeled vehicle with movable legs that could be used to traverse difficult terrain.

  This report is part of a series of reports focusing on the automotive content showcased at CES 2019, and details the exhibits shown by companies around the themes of in-vehicle user experience, autonomous vehicles and mobility concepts.


Related Reports:
CES 2019: Production models (February 2019)
CES 2019: State of the Autonomous Vehicle Industry (January 2019)
Tier 1 suppliers: Autonomous, Connected, and Mobility related businesses (January 2019)
CES Asia 2018: Electric, intelligent, and connected vehicles (August 2018)


New interaction modes within the vehicle

Kia R.E.A.D. Concept Series

  Kia introduced its Real-time Emotion Adaptive Driving (R.E.A.D.) system at CES 2019, focusing on how the in-vehicle experience will change once autonomous vehicles become commonplace. The R.E.A.D. system adapts the vehicle’s interior based on the user’s emotional state, which is tracked by sensors through various attributes such as facial expressions, heart rate, and electrodermal activity. Based on this information, the system can change cabin lighting, adjust climate control, activate Kia’s unique music-response vibration seats, and suggest other route or entertainment options.

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Kia R.E.A.D. Me concept Display showcasing R.E.A.D. emotion tracking system

  Kia also introduced V-Touch technology, a virtual touch-type gesture control system which utilizes the same sensors as the R.E.A.D. system. A 3D camera tracks a user’s eyes and fingertips as they interact with a head-up display. Through finger gestures, the user can control features such as lighting, climate control and entertainment systems without needing buttons, knobs or a touch screen.

Three different R.E.A.D. demonstration units were available:

  • R.E.A.D. Me: A one-person cockpit that analyzes the participant’s emotional state and adjusts the in-vehicle environment through various sensory changes.
  • R.E.A.D. Now: A two-person cockpit which simulates the experience of a Las Vegas tour. The system makes route and entertainment suggestions by analyzing the mood of its passengers. The V-Touch system enables users to select entertainment options such as games, music playback, and internet browsing.
  • R.E.A.D. Motion: A four-person cockpit which simulates a mobile workspace. Utilizing the V-Touch system, users can check e-mail or schedules. The head-up display functions as a screen for a conference call.
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Kia R.E.A.D. Now concept Kia R.E.A.D. Motion concept with users utilizing V-Touch system


BMW Vision iNEXT Concept

  While the BMW Vision iNEXT concept made its public show debut at the 2018 Los Angeles Auto Show, the automaker revealed additional technologies through a VR demonstration and interactive exhibits. The VR demonstration previewed a normal drive on the Vision iNEXT, highlighting activities while the vehicle autonomously travels. Prior to beginning the trip, the BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant displays an augmented reality checklist of the user’s schedule and tasks, and the charging status of the vehicle.

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BMW Vision iNEXT concept BMW Vision iNEXT concept interior

  While the driver has control, the windshield acts as an augmented reality display, showing information about the route and surroundings. Once the vehicle begins driving autonomously, the steering wheels and pedals are folded away for more space. The windshield transforms to a screen, displaying relevant content to the driver such as call participants in a conference call or streaming video when used for entertainment. Throughout the trip, the BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant supports the driver, for example, by helping with online shopping or operating smart home devices connected to the car.

  The BMW Vision iNEXT implements what the automaker calls Shy Tech, technology that is not outwardly visible outside of the displays and steering wheel. As such, the vehicle provides human-machine interfaces without disrupting the vehicle's simple aesthetic. Three examples of Shy Tech were demonstrated on the Vision iNEXT:

  • The Intelligent Personal Assistant gives the Vision iNEXT voice control capabilities and can be used to interact with devices such as smartphones, a smart home network, or the BMW Connected service.
  • Intelligent Materials enable almost any surface to be a touch control surface. A light activates and follows the path that a finger traces on the surface when used.
  • Intelligent Beam can be used as either a light or an interactive projection screen onto a blank display. The demonstration unit used a blank book as an example, with sensors to detect interaction, for example, when a page is being turned.
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BMW Intelligent Materials demonstration, with light following the path that a finger traces BMW Intelligent Beam demonstration


Byton M-Byte Concept and Production Details

  After unveiling the M-Byte SUV Concept at CES 2018, Byton revealed new details about the production model M-Byte set to launch at the end of 2019. Specifically, the interior adds an 8-inch touch pad between the driver and passenger seat which can control the 48-inch Shared Experience Display (SED) on the dashboard. There are three other displays consisting of a 7-inch tablet on the steering wheel, and two rear seat entertainment screens. The M-Byte provides multiple control modes including touch controls for every display except the SED, voice control, gesture control, and physical buttons.

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Byton M-Byte Concept Byton M-Byte Concept interior


Byton01.png (Press Kit Images)
Byton M-Byte production model interior
Source: Byton

  The M-Byte will include Byton Life, a digital ecosystem with machine-learning capabilities that connects smart devices, applications and data within the vehicle. Byton Life can provide support, by issuing reminders of scheduled appointments or tasks, enabling remote charging management, and allowing online shopping transactions. The front seats can be rotated inwards by up to 12 degrees to create a more social atmosphere. Increased user engagement in the vehicle is supported by these features as the M-Byte is expected to eventually be capable of level 4 autonomous driving.

  A final production model of the M-Byte is expected to be unveiled in the middle of 2019. Byton aims to begin series production of the M-Byte in late 2019 and begin sales in China at the end of 2019. Sales in the U.S. and Europe will begin in 2020.


Audi Aicon Concept

  The Audi Aicon, which debuted at IAA 2017, highlights a fully autonomous concept and the user experience in such a vehicle. Since the Aicon is fully autonomous, it has no steering wheel or pedals and devotes its interior to providing comfort and functionality for passengers. The Aicon eschews the B-pillar and features doors that open to the front and rear, creating a more inviting atmosphere.

  A display element with touch control functionality wraps around the front and sides, giving front passengers access to controls no matter their seating position. An electronic vehicle assistant identifies passengers through their smart devices and automatically loads personal settings into the Aicon. Passengers can choose between a variety of activities within the vehicle, including watching videos, browsing the internet, or holding conference calls. Both the front display on the dashboard and the virtual head-up display projected onto the windshield can be used as a screen for videos.

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Audi Aicon concept Audi Aicon concept interior


Audi Entertainment Concepts

Audi A8 used for Immersive In-Car Entertainment system

  In Audi’s Immersive In-Car Entertainment system concept, the car is transformed from a transportation medium to a form of stationary entertainment. The system was demonstrated at CES 2019 in an Audi A8. Video is displayed on a screen in front of the car, and on MMI displays and tablets in the car, while the car’s audio system provides sound. The experience is enhanced through an active suspension system, which can lift the A8 by up to 3.3 inches from its normal position in half a second, giving it the capability to rise, drop, tilt and vibrate. Additional feedback is provided through haptic motors in the front seats, LEDs throughout the vehicle and the A8’s heating and air conditioning vents. The entire system is controlled by a computer located in the trunk.

  Audi presented another entertainment system conceptually opposite to the Immersive In-Car Entertainment system. In partnership with Disney Games and Interactive Experiences, Audi developed an in-car VR experience based on Marvel’s Avengers for backseat passengers in an Audi e-tron. The VR experience places users in a spaceship which reflects how the e-tron is being driven. If the e-tron makes a sharp turn on the road, the VR spaceship will also sharply turn in the same direction. The system provides a new type of dynamic entertainment for backseat passengers.


Panasonic SPACe_L Autonomous Cabin Concept

  Panasonic displayed the SPACe_L Living Space Autonomous Cabin concept to illustrate possible activities in an autonomous vehicle, and the necessary in-vehicle technologies to support them. The SPACe_L features four different modes:

  • Living Space: The interior simulates a living room with adjustable seating and lighting controls, an air conditioner with an air quality controller, and a virtual assistant with cloud connectivity acting similarly to a smart home device.
  • Business: Rotatable seats can give individuals their own private workspace, while personal speakers and microphones allow conversations. Video conferencing is possible, with video and relevant images projected on window display screens.
  • Relaxation: Passengers can listen to music through the vehicle’s 22-speaker surround sound system.
  • Entertainment: The window display screens can display videos or function as touch screens, while the sound and lighting systems can be customized. Refrigerated storage areas between the seats can store food and drink.


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Panasonic SPACe_L concept interior Panasonic SPACe_L display windows


Toyota Boshoku MOOX interior space model concept

Toyota Boshoku MOOX Interior Space Model Concept

  Toyota Boshoku presented the MOOX interior space model concept for an autonomous vehicle and included a VR demonstration simulating a trip. The MOOX concept interior features rotatable and movable seats. The interior can be used for both business and entertainment purposes, with foldable workspaces and windows that function as display screens. A digital personal assistant is available to provide customized suggestions and feedback on routes or points of interest, while the vehicle provides stimuli across all five senses.


Other Emotion Recognition Systems

  Several suppliers showcased systems capable of tracking and analyzing a person’s emotional state through various sensors. This information can then be used to improve the user’s comfort. Aisin’s Emotion Estimation Technology demonstration unit was installed in front of a stand-up mirror, and primarily used the subject’s facial expressions to determine their mood through the comparison of accumulated data. Hyundai Mobis’ Future Interior Concept utilized an AI-based emotion detection system to adapt the interior based on the passenger’s mood. The Future Interior Concept is also able to share information about the driver’s mood to other vehicles equipped with the same technology to avoid potential accidents with distracted or upset drivers.

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Aisin Emotion Estimation Technology demonstration unit Hyundai Mobis Future Interior Concept display
Toyota Boshoku emotion recognition demonstration unit display

  Toyota Boshoku showcased an emotion recognition system in its AceS conceptual interior. The system uses a camera to analyze facial expressions, and integrated seat sensors to record heart and breathing rates to track the user’s physical condition. This ties into the other systems of the AceS interior, including the Enfold Personal Air Conditioner System, Automatic Seat Adjustment System to improve posture, Active Driver Engagement system which provides music and haptic feedback in the seats, and the Intermittent Uplifting System that adjusts lighting and emits fragrances.


Exhibits show autonomous development across testing, research, and application

Waymo Autonomous Chrysler Pacifica

  At its CES display, FCA showcased Waymo’s Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivan used for testing. The autonomous Pacifica Hybrid uses a sensor suite developed and produced entirely by Waymo. Sensors include three types of lidars, including a short-range lidar to give an uninterrupted view of the surrounding area, and a long-range lidar that can zoom in and detect objects up to 200 yards away. The Pacifica’s custom vision system consists of eight separate modules, each featuring multiple sensors that combine to provide 360-degree vision. A forward facing high-resolution module enhances frontal detection. The radars on the Pacifica also provide a 360-degree view around the car and are tailored to be more sensitive to slower moving objects.

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Waymo Autonomous Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid Waymo One app sample display

  Waymo also showed an example of its Waymo One self-driving transportation service. Waymo One is similar to ride-hailing services, such as Uber or Lyft, in that the customer requests a pickup and destination location, while the app provides status updates. The main difference is that a driverless vehicle provides transportation for Waymo One, rather than an outside driver. Waymo One was launched in Phoenix, Arizona in December 2018, with a customer base initially limited to early volunteers that provide regular feedback.

  In May 2018, FCA announced that it would deliver up to 62,000 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrids to Waymo for its self-driving fleet. FCA also announced that they were engaged in discussions with Waymo about the use of Waymo's self-driving technology in its own vehicles.


Honda Autonomous Robots

  Building off the robotic concepts showcased in 2018, Honda’s exhibit included two units highlighting the potential capabilities of autonomous vehicles. The Autonomous Work Vehicle, based on the previously shown 3E-D18 concept, utilizes Honda’s ATV chassis with a four-wheel drive system capable of traversing through rough terrain. The Autonomous Work Vehicle includes GPS and sensor-based autonomous capability, power plug-ins and a rail accessory mount system. Three different modes of autonomous pathing are available, “Follow Me”, “Pattern”, and “A to B”.

  Honda has tested the Autonomous Work Vehicle in real-world scenarios including a solar operations company in North Carolina, a wilderness firefighting division in Colorado, and an agricultural sciences college in California. At the solar operations company, the Autonomous Work Vehicle cut vegetation around solar panels by equipping a mower and maneuvering across the plot. With the firefighting division, firefighters would load equipment on the vehicle and direct it to autonomously follow them. The Autonomous Work Vehicle was used at the agricultural college for weed spraying and crop delivery.

  Honda also showcased its PATH (Predicting Action of The Human) Bot, which highlights Honda’s work on artificial intelligence development. The PATH Bot combines sensors and cameras with its AI to move from place to place while avoiding people and obstacles. The PATH Bot indicates what direction it is going in to other people by tilting itself, and can withstand small impacts from collisions. Honda is currently seeking partners to explore applications of the PATH Bot technology in public areas.

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Honda Autonomous Work Vehicles Honda PATH Bot


Magneti Marelli Sensor Systems

  Magneti Marelli showcased the third generation of its Smart Corner system, which was nominated as a CES 2019 Innovation Awards Honoree in the Vehicle Intelligence & Self-Driving Technology category. The Smart Corner integrates sensors, such as cameras, radars and lidar systems, and other technology within a vehicle’s headlamps and taillamps, providing autonomous functionality while maintaining a vehicle’s appearance. The third-generation Smart Corner integrates the following new systems, improving a vehicle’s autonomous capabilities:

  • Far Infrared thermal cameras provide better object detection compared to standard cameras, especially in poor weather or lighting
  • Light Fidelity (Li-Fi) systems, which uses LEDs to transmit data through light, provide more secure and faster data transmission compared to Wi-Fi; the primary drawback to Li-Fi is the requirement to maintain line-of-sight
  • 77 GHz corner and forward-facing radar units serve as longer-range upgrades to currently available systems
  • LeddarTech LCA2 lidar platform provides short-range object detection while enabling the design of a scalable lidar solution
  • Millimeter wave radar serves as a replacement for ultrasonic sensors
  • Speaker and sound generation technology enables the vehicle to communicate with parties outside the vehicle or provide geolocation capabilities
  • HDR camera supplements other cameras to maintain a 360-degree view
  • Cleaning system keeps the lamp lens clean to ensure that all sensors can operate correctly
IMG_0333 (Magneti Marelli) Acura RDX
Sensors integrated on Magneti Marelli Smart Corner Li-Fi system integrated on Magneti Marelli Smart Corner


Clarion-Hitachi Long-Range Ride Summon Demonstration

Demonstration of Clarion-Hitachi Long-Range Ride Summon autonomous capability

  Clarion and Hitachi partnered together to demonstrate a long-range ride summoning application for autonomous vehicles. The driver uses a smartphone app which connects to the car through a cellular connection. When the driver parks the car, the system memorizes a GPS path from a user-designated location to the parking spot. When ready, the driver can go to the designated location and press a button on the app to summon the vehicle from the parking spot. Once activated, the car will backtrack across the memorized path to the driver. The car features an array of sensors including lidar, radar, cameras and ultrasonic sensors to detect obstacles, which it will steer around as it returns to the driver.

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Display of app used for Clarion-Hitachi Long-Range Ride Summon demonstration Display of app used for Clarion-Hitachi Long-Range Ride Summon demonstration

Mobility concepts showcase alternative vehicle use cases and capabilities

Hyundai Elevate Concept

Press Kit Images
Prototype of Hyundai Elevate
Source: Hyundai

  During its CES 2019 press conference, Hyundai presented a prototype of the Elevate vehicle concept, a walking car designed to access areas and cross terrain normally unreachable by traditional wheeled vehicles. Beyond uses in disaster relief and off-road aid, the Elevate can also be used in cases such as transporting handicapped individuals to areas that do not have wheelchair accessible ramps. A modular EV platform provides flexibility as different bodies can be switched out based on the situation, for example, medical aid versus firefighting supplies.

  The Elevate’s legs have five degrees of freedom and wheel hub motors. As such, the legs can simulate both mammalian and reptilian walking gaits, enabling movement in all directions. In drive mode, the Elevate’s legs folds up underneath its body, allowing the vehicle to drive at highway speeds. Through the Elevate’s legs and wheels, the vehicle can climb over five-foot walls, step over a five-foot gap, or maintain a 15-foot track width while keeping the body level.


Mercedes-Benz Vision Urbanetic Concept

  Mercedes-Benz presented the Vision Urbanetic concept, demonstrating an efficient, sustainable and needs-based mode of transport for people and goods. The Vision Urbanetic consists of two interchangeable modules on an electric chassis, one for passengers and another for cargo. When delivering passengers, the Urbanetic can accommodate up to 12 people at once. The cargo module features a storage volume of 10 cubic meters that can store objects up to 3.7 meters long. The amount of space in both modules results from the removal of components including the steering wheel, pedals and cockpit.

  The Vision Urbanetic includes an intelligent IT infrastructure that analyzes supply and demand of services in real time. As part of an autonomous fleet, each vehicle can be sent to where demand is greatest, while flexibly planning out routes. The connected system also utilizes machine learning to predict and respond to future demand. Cameras and sensors allow the vehicle to detect and recognize its surroundings, while displays on the front and sides of the Vision Urbanetic allow it to communicate with pedestrians, potential passengers, or other vehicles. Due to its autonomous nature, the Vision Urbanetic can be used at any time, only pausing to recharge its battery or for maintenance.

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Mercedes-Benz Vision Urbanetic concept Mercedes-Benz Vision Urbanetic concept interior


Kia Smart City Mobility SEED Car Concept

  Kia’s exhibit included a personal mobility concept called the SEED Car, which is a four-wheel electric cycle with a range of 100 kilometers. While the vehicle requires pedal input to move, the hybrid system converts mechanical power from pedaling into electricity, which then powers the motors. The SEED Car is intended to be used as a last-mile solution in urban areas, providing improved performance over electric bicycles while being smaller and lighter than a traditional car. If a user wishes to travel somewhere outside the 100-kilometer range, an autonomous BIRD shuttle housing SEED cars can bring users within the range, at which point the user can drive to their destination.

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Kia SEED Car concept Kia SEED Car concept


External Environment Communication Concepts

  Magneti Marelli and Hyundai Mobis both displayed vehicle concepts which featured technology enabling communication between the vehicle and other road users. Hyundai Mobis presented the Communication Lighting Concept showcasing specific use cases for an autonomous vehicle. The concept uses LEDs, digital boards, headlamp projectors and speakers for communication. For example, if the vehicle detects a pedestrian, it can project a warning symbol to indicate that it is unsafe to cross in front of the vehicle. Once the vehicle stops, it can project a crosswalk symbol on the ground to show pedestrians that it is safe to cross. The LED screens then provide a countdown to indicate when the vehicle will resume its movement while displaying arrows to show which direction it will move.

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Hyundai Mobis Communication Lighting Concept Hyundai Mobis Communication Lighting Concept use case demonstration

  In a Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid featuring its Smart Corner system, Magneti Marelli highlighted various connectivity technologies including external communication systems. The Pacifica Hybrid features AMOLED displays on the front and rear of the vehicle to display images or messages, along with lighting that turns turquoise to show when the vehicle is in autonomous mode. With projectors in the vehicle, the Pacifica can display advertisements based on its location, functioning as a mobile billboard. The concept also features projectors that can display images on the ground.

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Front AMOLED display on Magneti Marelli
Smart Corner demonstration vehicle
Positional advertising display on Magneti
Marelli Smart Corner demonstration vehicle


Supplier Mobility Models and Concepts

Continental Urban Mobility Experience concept

  A number of suppliers exhibited vehicle concepts intended to provide unique or specialized mobility solutions. The Continental Urban Mobility Experience (CUbE) is an autonomous vehicle designed to provide urban first- or last-mile solutions, such as transporting workers from a mass transit station to their workplace. Another application features CUbE operating in conjunction with delivery robots to autonomously deliver packages to a homeowner’s doorstep.

  Schaeffler showcased passenger and cargo version of its Bio-Hybrid vehicle, which is expected to launch in 2020. Both versions offer zero-emission transport, a maximum range of 50 kilometers, and provide protection for its passengers with a roof and windshield. The Bio-Hybrid is powered by a combination of an electric motor and mechanical pedals. The Panasonic SPACe_C small mobile autonomous concept is comprised of Panasonic’s next-generation 48V ePowertrain platform and a modular upper structure. The 48V ePowertrain consists of a power unit and motor unit which outputs 18 kW. Panasonic demonstrated two use cases for the SPACe_C: a tour bus for a national park, and a mobile grocery store that sells fresh produce.

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Schaeffler Bio-Hybrid cargo version Panasonic SPACe_C mobile market use case

  ZF’s e.Go Mover represents an autonomous electric vehicle capable of transporting people or cargo, with prototypes currently being tested in locations including college campuses. The vehicle has room for up to 15 people and features a range of up to 150 kilometers. At CES 2019, ZF and e.Go Mobile announced its first customer in Transdev, a leading international mobility provider, which plans to provide a mobility solution by 2020. The Mahle Efficient Electric Transport (MEET) concept is a 48-volt vehicle designed for personal urban transportation. The MEET emphasizes driving efficiency by utilizing integrated power electronics and an efficient thermal management system that focuses on surface heating. The MEET is powered by two motors each generating 30 kW and 110 Nm of torque and has a cruising range of 167 kilometers.

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ZF e.Go Mover Mahle Efficient Electric Transport

CES2019, CES, Audi, BMW, Byton, FCA, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Mercedes-Benz, Aisin, Clarion, Continental, Hitachi, Hyundai Mobis, Magneti Marelli, Mahle, Panasonic, Schaeffler, Toyota Boshoku Corporation, Waymo, ZF

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