The evolution of the automobile into a mobile living room takes a giant leap forward this week at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, with many of the world's top 10 car makers touting wares that advance the richness, variety and seamlessness of the infotainment experience inside their vehicles. Audi, Chrysler, Ford, General Motors, Hyundai, Kia, Subaru, and Toyota's Lexus brand are all tooting their own digital horns and partnerships at the 2013 CES show.
Garnering some pre-CES buzz, both Lexus and Audi will be showcasing their respective advances in the self-driving car arena, whose development so far has been aggressively pursued mainly by Google (using Lexus for its self-driving car test) Both luxury auto brands are displaying technologies that could bring this once-outlandish notion closer to the actual road.
Toyota's Lexus brand is displaying a version of its LS model with a spinning radar on top of the car along with camera equipment placed at the front, similar (in fact, borrowing from) Google's approach. It also features a technology called Transport Systems that allows the car to communicate with other vehicles on the road in one rendition of the fast-advancing field called "vehicle-to-vehicle communications," which should help cars from running into each other at intersections.
For its part, Audi is bringing a car that reportedly has the ability to find a parking space on its own, along with parking itself. Audi is expected to be revealing other details of the vehicle at CES. To that end, the automaker announced that the State of Nevada has issued Audi only the second license allowing the testing of autonomous vehicles on its public roads, making Audi the first automotive OEM to obtain this special permit; Google was the first overall recipient.
Chevrolet wants to continue to make like Apple, demonstrating in its Spark model a center stack that actually connects to Siri via iPhones and uses the car's audio system for two-way communications. Chevy also is showing how it is integrating the Tunein internet-radio app into a version of Spark EV with the app integration.
Not to be outpaced in the race to the digital future, Chrysler — which so far has pursued a bit of the tortoise's strategy against competitors' hares in this pursuit — and Clear Channel are unveiling an integration of iHeartRadio into Chrysler vehicles (which also is arriving in GM models). Chrysler vehicles equipped with Uconnect infotainment capabilities can be personalized for iHeartRadio through the dashboard touchscreen.
Hyundai is showcasing technologies including the integratino of Siri and an Eyes Free mode in which drivers can direct Apple's digital assistant to perform a number of tasks while they keep their hands on the road and eyes on the wheel. Hyundai also introduced Dragon Drive, an "automotive-grade" voice service platform that "enables drives to speak naturally and conversationally with in-car systems," according to a press release.
[Video via YouTube/STBARTSTV]