Next-Gen Advancements Fuel the Connected Car


This week’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas promises a number of intriguing new product launches aligned with smarter, more connected technology as the Internet of Things age continues to power forward. A primary target for much of this technology will be the automotive sector.

One example is Toyota’s Platform 3.0 self-driving car prototype. The global automotive giant is promoting the new platform’s improved sensing capabilities and a design that blends these sensors without sacrificing sales-inducing aesthetics. This plan includes a roof panel that houses sensors and helps disguise other vital electronics.

The vehicle on display, a modified Lexus LS 600hL hybrid, will feature advancements such as a LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) system with a 656-foot range and 360-degree scanning. The extended range is more than three times that of many autonomous vehicles currently in development. Additionally, more short-range sensors have been positioned on all four sides of the car for detecting low-lying objects like road debris.

Another example of the connected car at CES will come from Chinese startup Byton. Their Concept SUV is an all-electric vehicle that the company positions as a smart device on wheels. Exterior handles and mirrors are gone, replaced by facial recognition for entry, and cameras that will keep an eye on traffic and surroundings.

Even though it’s a fully autonomous vehicle, there’s still a driver’s seat with its own wheel and touchscreen. The remainder of the interior is about making the most of the journey time. The features include a three-foot-long dashboard display for checking the weather or watching videos. There are also two seat-mounted displays for those in the back, and Amazon’s Alexa will also be integrated into the vehicle’s operating system to meet additional passenger needs.

The Concept could be available in China by 2019 and the U.S. by 2020. A proposed a rear-drive model will offer a 71-kWh battery pack with a 248-mile range and 295 foot-pounds of torque, while the all-wheel-drive model will have a 95 kWh battery pack that will last up to 328 miles in generating up to 523 ft.-lbs. of torque. The Byton will reportedly carry a price tag of $45,000.

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