(Click here for part one of our CES show coverage)
First up is the NeuV, a smartphone-esque concept from Japanese giant, Honda. I hesitate to flat out call it a car, as I’m not quite sure whether car is the appropriate term or whether it would be more fitting to refer to it as a computer. A carputer perhaps? Regardless of which box we place it in, the NeuV has caused a bit of a stir within the EV world, and for good reason too. Prior to the announcement of the NeuV, Honda had been firmly focused on developing hydrogen technology, choosing to take the H2O route as its chosen renewable energy source. Now the NueV appears to be symbolising a shift in direction from Honda in this regard, as this concept is based purely around EV technology.
While the NeuV might be an electric vehicle, it isn’t the usual power and battery specs that are going to be of most interest to most people here. The NeuV is less about EV as it is about AI; that’s what’s particularly interesting about this Siri on wheels. The NeuV features an AI system known as ‘Hana’, who is represented as a small emoji-like character on the dashboard mounted display. Hana is an extremely attentive individual(?); she will determine what you like or dislike, and will use things such as a seat mounted heart-rate monitor and facial recognition cameras to determine your mood. Hana can then offer you suggestions, such as picking up a coffee en-route to work, and will even go as far as to order it for you if you do decide to take heed of her advice.
While the NeuV has some way to go before completing a transformation from a concept into a fully-fledged production car, it does look like a promising outlook on what Honda has to offer the EV world.
The Toyota Concept-i is another computer on 4-wheels concept, and in many respects is much like Honda’s NeuV. This is because the Concept-i also features an ultra-intelligent AI system, this time under the name of ‘Yui’.
Although still in relatively early stages of development, Yui likes to offer similar kinds of services as the NeuV’s ‘Hana’ AI, which include (among other things) monitoring the driver’s mood, even offering a gentle seat massage when detecting high stress levels, as well as intelligently calculating the types of road the driver likes best, in order to suggest routes which will offer the most enjoyment to whoever is behind the wheel. Yui is also able to display messages across the Concept-i’s exterior, such as friendly greetings to anyone entering the car, or warning messages to vehicles or pedestrians to the rear of the vehicle. The front end bodywork also shows the current selected drive mode; manual or automated, though what real purpose this serves is yet to be seen.
Also like the NeuV, the Concept-i concept car was sadly displayed without any real details regarding drive-train specifications, which may mean these concepts are here purely to tease us with futuristic AI fantasies, rather than to portray actual production cars in development. We can only hope!
Now for something which looks a little more market-ready; the Renault POM. The POM, which stands for ‘Platform-Based-Open-Market’, is a vehicle based on the recently released Renault Twizy (which we covered here). What’s interesting about this announcement is the fact it’s not so much an announcement of the vehicle, but of the actual software used to drive it. Renault claims it will be the first open-source car-based software, which those of us with in interest in IT will know makes this a pretty big deal. For those who are not familiar with the term ‘open-source software’, it’s basically computer software (such as a programme or operating system), built by a company and distributed often free of charge, so that other third-parties may develop and integrate it as they choose (as long as the terms of the license are met). Current well known examples of open-source software include the extremely popular Android operating system, found on the majority of smartphones and tablets, and the popular Mozilla Firefox web browser, among many others.
This will essentially allow other people to create a completely customised electric vehicle based around this software, which will act as a sort of backbone, thus theoretically making it much easier for third-parties to create individual electric vehicles. Exciting stuff!
The Rinspeed Oasis is, to be frank, a truly outrageous EV concept. The fully autonomous vehicle is packed full of futuristic features, which aim to make the best possible use of its autonomous nature. For example, it includes a smartphone app designed to make the Oasis usable as a sort of taxi service. The user is able to hail an Oasis, much like as with a taxi or with the Uber service, but can actually choose who to ride with based on a very Tinder like interface; simply “heart” to like, or swipe to dismiss. Showing a ‘heart’ will reflect interest and result in a possible ride to your destination.
Rinspeed have also included a compartment to allow you to grow your own little garden, hence the Oasis name. It even has controls, so that you can dictate the garden’s temperature and airflow.
The windscreen is a huge 5K resolution display provided courtesy of Harman, which is compatible with both voice and motion gestures, and will allow the rider to watch films, as well alert them to any obstacles.
The Rinspeed Oasis is a concept which looks to push the autonomous EV market further, and we hope it won’t be long before we start seeing these technologies on the road!