Back to Newsroom

CES 2014: Everything a car enthusiast needs to know

Google takes on Apple in the battle for the dashboard, Audi demos self-driving cars with laser lights, automated parking apps are revealed, and several other announcements mark significant developments in car technology.

Audi announces a car with laser lights at the Consumer Electronics Show

Audi announces a car with laser lights at the Consumer Electronics Show

With the annual international Consumer Electronics Show well underway in Las Vegas, we've produced a rundown of the most important announcements to date for the car enthusiast.

Over the past couple of years, CES has become even more of a car show as the gap continues to close between consumer electronics and automotive technology. BMW and Volvo still have announcements lined up for this week - but a number of key players including Audi and Google have already shown their cards.

Google announces Open Automotive Alliance to bring Android into the car

Google Open Automotive Alliance

The Open Handset Alliance helped to change Google's Android mobile OS from an unheard-of market entrant to a dominant force in the mobile industry.

Today, Google announced the Open Automotive Alliance (OAA) which is attempting to do the same for cars.

Audi, GM, Honda, Hyundai and NVIDIA have all put their names to the OAA, described as “a global alliance of technology and auto industry leaders committed to bringing the Android platform to cars starting in 2014.”

Even though Ford aren't participating, their Chief Technology Officer said that it was a 'step forward, even if we're not joining'.

How does this benefit drivers?

Google say that we can expect to see the first cars with Android integration by the end of this year

Drivers are already accessing their mobiles while they're on the road, but in ways that aren't always safe. Google claims that by "working with automakers to deliver these experiences in ways that make sense for the automobile, drivers can get what they're looking for without disrupting their focus on the road".

Developers are already familiar with the well-established Android platform, so ought to be able to deliver powerful apps from the outset.

What does this mean for the industry?

This is strong competition for Apple’s iOS in the Car initiative – enabling owners of iOS devices to access functions of their phone or tablet, from this year. Honda and Hyundai appear to be occupying both camps, having signed up to both initiatives. Honda, Mercedes Benz, Nissan, Ferrari, Chevy, Infiniti, Kia, Hyundai, Volvo, Jaguar, and Acura have signed up to iOS in the Car. Many are speculating that the battle for the dashboard is now well and truly underway.

When will this become a reality?

Google says that we can expect to see the first cars with Android integration by the end of this year.

Audi launches a concept car with laser lights – Audi Sport Quattro Laserlight

Audi Quattro Laser Lights

The Audi Sport Quattro Laserlight concept was Audi's big CES announcement. While BMW have already experimented with laser lights, Audi have created a kind of hybrid light. It features a combination of matrix LED and laser light technologies, so two elements are visible in the headlight – the outer ring provides the low beam using matrix LEDs, while the inner uses laser light technology for the high beam.

What does this mean for the industry?

Headlights will be more powerful, more efficient and Audi's Chief Technical Officer, Ulrich Hackenber, assures us that "oncoming cars won't get dazzled thanks to this technology".

When will this become a reality?

Audi hasn’t confirmed whether a production version of the Sport Quattro will be introduced. Rumours suggest that it could bridge the gap between top-spec TTs and the R8 supercar, although it does provide clues to the technology that will be used in upcoming Audi models.

Nvidia Chip in Cars Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang shows off the the TEGRA K1 chip

Audi also said that the technology powering the self-driving A7 can fit on a card about the size of a desktop computer's motherboard, and pulls in laser, radar, camera, and ultrasonic data.

Automated valet parking apps

Bosch Self Driving App

Valeo demonstrated its Automated Valet Parking app, which allows drivers to leave their car at the entrance of a car park and let the car find a suitable space in which to park. Drivers remotely activate the fully automatic parking feature using their smartphone. Similarly, they can use their smartphone to call their car to pick them up when they leave. These apps are ironically very similar to the 'Valet Me' app, which appears in Betas, a show parodying Silicon Valley.

Bosch also announced a very similar app at CES, and Volvo are trying something similar.

What does this mean for the industry?

This is a further step towards fully automatic self-driving cars.

When will this become a reality?

It's unclear when these apps will be released to the public. Valeo will need to strike up deals with major carmakers for this technology to be a success, and talks are underway with VW group. Bosch's app is not yet ready for production.

BMW intermodal navigation offers public transport alternatives

BMW intermodal navigation

BMW explained how the intermodal navigation feature of its My Remote app for the i3 electric car shows multiple transport options when calculating how to get to a destination.

An i3 owner can enter a destination, and the app will include possible routes combining driving, walking, bus, rail, tram, and ferry routes. For example, you could select a route that has you driving to a railway station, taking the train to another town, then walking to the final destination - avoiding busy traffic congestion. Data is provided by Traffic data aggregator Inrix.

What does this mean for the industry?

This signifies how many car manufacturers are meeting the demands of increasingly environmentally conscious consumers.

When will this become a reality?

It already is. It's available in the BMW i3, which is available from Harry Fairbairn BMW.

Garmin announced a sat nav system containing a high-definition dash cam and HUD (windshield projection)

Garmin HUD

Garmin showed off its K2 system which provides extensive navigation, audio playback, telephony, smartphone integration, and app integration combined with a head up display (HUD) - which is a windshield projection.

As part of this new Garmin sat nav system, they've also created a high-definition camera that can mount to any vehicles’ windshield. From there, it continuously records a wide-angle view of the road as you’re driving.

What does this mean for the industry?

Improved in-car information systems are being developed as a result of significant recent advances in computer technology.

When will this become a reality?

The K2 system is not currently used in any production vehicles, and they expect to be able to integrate the technology in to a 2017 model year car. Garmin's biggest car manufacturer client is currently Fiat, which includes Jeep and Chrysler vehicles.

More car tech news from CES 2014

CES 2014 took place on January 6th - 9th

About the Author

Sam England

Staff writer at Arnold Clark