Heavy-duty trucks and autonomous driving technology took center stage on the second day of the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas on Tuesday.
In an example of the convergence of old and new technology the owner of the storied Peterbilt and Kenworth truck brands showed off an advanced alternative fuel technology big rig. The truck is packed with sensor and computer systems from some of the largest tech companies marketing their products at the sprawling show.
Here is a collection of the most important announcements during the second day of CES:
- Paccar: One of the trucking industry’s most established names has largely kept out of the rush to advanced driving in recent years. But on the opening day of Paccar’s first CES appearance it unveiled two futuristic models: a Kenworth powered by hydrogen fuel cells and a Peterbilt with Level 4 autonomous capability. Both trucks are proof of concept vehicles, meaning they are ready for testing but not production. The hydrogen Kenworth has 150 miles of range and will begin operating at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach in the second quarter of this year. The self-driving Peterbilt – using Lidar systems from Velodyne and a Nvidia processor – will soon begin testing at the company’s facility in Mount Vernon, Wash.
- Ford: Jim Hackett, chief executive of Ford, laid out an ambitious plan for the automaker to lead technology that will connect vehicles along with urban infrastructure in a keynote address at CES. “We’re just beginning to appreciate what the technology can make possible,” Hackett said. Called the “City of Tomorrow,” it will feature streets and curbs that change depending on the behavior of cars, bicycles, public transit and even pedestrians. The automaker partnered with Silicon Valley startup Autonomic to develop the plan and hopes to test in a major U.S. city soon.
- Velodyne: The leader in LiDAR sensors that enable automated features and autonomous driving when affixed to cars and trucks, Velodyne LiDAR unveiled new technology at CES on Tuesday. The company showed its VLS-128 system which features a wider field of vision and improved resolution. It also showed the compact Velarray which embeds more discretely into the vehicle’s body. The company also reduced the price of its popular VLP-16 sensor by 50 percent to $4,000.
- Mobileye: Technology supplier Mobileye N.V. announced that millions of connected vehicles from BMW, Nissan, Volkswagen and others will use its EyeQ chip in 2018. The device gathers data and sends it to the cloud, creating aggregated high-definition maps that will lay the groundwork for Level 4 and Level 5 autonomous vehicles. Mobileye’s sensors use cameras rather than radar. The company was purchased by Intel Corp. for $15 billion in 2017.
- Austin Electric Vehicles: Industry newcomer Austin Electric Vehicles arrived at CES with a trio of unique models. Its 311 is a three-wheeled vehicle for short trips; its 411 is a utility delivery vehicle; and its 511 is a four-wheel drive light duty truck with maximum payload capacity of 1,800 pounds. Customers made 100 orders for the 311 and 1,000 orders for the 411, said Rod Keller, chief executive of AEV. The company began 11 months ago and CES served as its de facto public debut.
- Mercedes-Benz: The Mercedes-Benz User Experience, or MBUX, is a flashy infotainment system with a large digital display stretching nearly the width of the interior. CES attendees lined up to experience one of the three MBUX systems on the Mercedes floor, but they won’t need to wait long to see it on new models. The automaker says MBUX will be standard equipment on a compact car as early as this year.
- Cognata: As an alternative to real-world testing, Cognata Ltd. of Israel develops artificial intelligence technology that allows autonomous vehicles to simulate driving on public roads. The company announced a cloud-based simulation engine at CES on Tuesday. The new system allows automakers to test autonomous cars for millions – or even billions – of miles in a fraction of the time it would take in the real world. Partners on the project include Nvidia and Microsoft.
- Renault, Nissan and Mitsubishi: The three automakers, who formed the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance in 1999, will form a venture capital fund called Alliance Ventures to invest in autonomous and electric technology. The group will provide the fund with $1 billion over the next five years. It has already invested in Ionic Materials of Woburn, Mass. The company develops solid-state batteries that are believed to be more compact and affordable than lithium-ion batteries.