Emotive Driving and Smart Cities—Highlights from CES 2019


Every year, we attend the Consumer Electronics Show® (CES), the world’s gathering place for those interested in the business of consumer technologies. For 50 years, the conference has served as the global stage for next-generation innovations that are introduced to the market through more than 4,500 exhibiting companies.

Below, we highlight our top takeaways from the conference that are set to evolve the landscape of the automotive industry:

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Emotive Driving: A Prevailing Trend at CES 2019

First, we attended the Mercedes-Benz news conference, where they premiered new updates to their MBUX, an intuitive and intelligent infotainment system that comes equipped with Artificial Intelligence (AI) features. The system can be individualized and adapted to the user, creating what they call an “emotional connection” between the vehicle, driver, and passengers. This idea was actually a prevailing concept at CES this year—we saw cameras that can read someone’s face and, based on algorithms, can determine gender, age, and mood. Through this tech, for instance, sensors can be added to a smart home, can scan a person’s mood, and then automatically play happy music if that person is sad. In relation to vehicles, this idea of creating an emotional connection could work via cameras mounted on a vehicle’s dashboard, monitoring the driver’s eye movement to determine if they’re paying attention to the road.

For example, BMW showcased a voice-activated tech on their high-end vehicles where the driver can say things like “I’m feeling sleepy,” and the sunroof would automatically open up, or “I’m feeling stressed,” and the sunroof would automatically close. This idea of emotive driving is where a lot of the technology is going, and it’s eventually going to change the user experience based on its perception of the user’s state and mood.

5G and Autonomous Vehicles

Next, we attended a session that talked about how revolutionary technologies like 5G are disrupting self-driving and connectivity. However, Tekedra Mawakana, chief external officer at Waymo, highlighted how, in her opinion, 5G and autonomous vehicles don’t necessarily go together because autonomous vehicles are meant to have minimal connection with the Internet so that they can function.

The Abundance of Data: Another Prevailing Trend at CES 2019

Another common theme across all these sessions was that there’s going to be so much data coming out, questions are arising about how it’s going to be used; who’s going to own it; where the government will need to step in to mandate what needs to be protected and what doesn’t; and who has access to it. It used to be that telematics companies would insert a little dongle in the vehicle, similar to those that insurance companies insert to track and measure driver behavior. Now, though, Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) will own all the data—making it a challenge for third-party companies to get back the data and to analyze just how much data is too much for the OEMs to own. This is one of the issues that’s emerging as a result of 5G technology, and it’s really changing how we perceive new and emerging technology in the industry.

Connect Future Transport

This was another interesting session we attended, where leaders in the transportation industry talked about how the future of mobility is rapidly changing. One panelist, Shiva Bhardwaj, founder and CEO at Pitstop, a platform that harnesses information from across the ecosystem, talked about how his company integrates things like connected vehicles, dealerships, fleet managers, OEMs, and more, taking all the data that a vehicle sends and looking for issues before they can even occur. By doing this, the platform is able to proactively help prevent vehicle failures. This is a kind of preventative maintenance, and Pitstop is currently working on figuring out how they’re going to get that data when the OEMs have it locked down—and making it accessible only to their systems.

When Does My Air Taxi Arrive?

This session featured four speakers from the technology sector, including Scott Drennan, VP of Innovation at Bell Flight. One cool takeaway from Scott was that, by 2025, people will possibly be taking an air taxi from the airport where they landed to another location within that city. These air taxis mean transporting people from airports to various locations will be maximized, saving money that would otherwise be spent on adding an extra lane on a highway. Drennan also noted how this would help reduce the traffic, and that creating the technology is closer than we think because the process eliminates creating the object and image recognition systems that are required for autonomous vehicles, for instance.

Smart Cities and the Decline in Vehicle Ownership

In the end, amid all this emerging tech, vehicle ownership will be affected. For example, the average owned vehicle is utilized only 5% of the time, and some of the technologies featured at this year’s CES will prove convenient for increasing utilization—because that’s how transportation will get cheaper for the average rider. Also, creating smart cities to complement this utilization of vehicles will be the next big thing, and a lot of infrastructure updates will need to be made to include sensors for receiving the data.

We really enjoyed this year’s CES, and look forward to CES 2020 for more info on where the industry is headed and what it means for Fleet Management.