Best car tech from CES 2018


CES is the biggest trade show of its kind in the world, with the spotlight on automotive innovation growing larger each year.

The annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is on right now in Las Vegas, highlighting the latest and greatest innovations in consumer gadgetry. In recent years, cars have taken up greater exhibition space as the lines between auto and tech become increasingly blurred — CES itself describes the event as “a turbocharged Detroit,” taking a small jab at the Motor City’s big show taking place immediately after. Have a peek at some of the top reveals from 2018.

Toyota e-Palette

Toyota e-Palette Concept

This self-driving battery electric concept vehicle is designed as a customizable, and scalable, mobile solution for businesses. Indeed, Toyota has already announced partnerships with the likes of Amazon, Mazda, Uber and Pizza Hut (think autonomous pizza baking and delivery). The e-Palette will be open source so partner companies can implement their own driving systems tailored to specific needs. Real world testing is planned for 2020.

Honda 3E-D18

Honda 3E-D18

Focusing on robotics and artificial intelligence at this year’s CES, Honda showed off the 3E-D18, an autonomous AI-enabled off-road device designed to support people in a broad range of work activities. The product of Honda R&D Americas, the 3E-D18 is powered by an electric drivetrain and is modular, meaning it can be outfitted with a variety of attachments to make tasks like search and rescue, fire fighting and agriculture safer and more efficient. 

Toyota Platform 3.0

Lexus LS 600hL Platform 3.0

Although the above long wheelbase hybrid LS doesn’t necessarily look like the newest automated driving research vehicle produced by the Toyota Research Institute, dubbed Platform 3.0, that’s kind of the point. One of the goals of the project was to engage “intelligent minimalism,” eliminating the unattractive bolt-on equipment commonly seen on such test cars. The sensors and cameras have all been hidden as much as possible, for example some being relocated into available space in the sunroof compartment.

Toyota Platform 3.0 Lexus LS 600hL

Despite the streamlined appearance, the advanced sedan features long-range 200-metre perception in 360 degrees. 

Toyota Fine-Comfort Ride concept vehicle rides on airless tires

Another member joins the hydrogen camp: Toyota has launched the Fine-Comfort Ride (FCR) concept, a fuel cell vehicle boasting a 1,000-kilometre range and airless tires.

Toyota Fine-Comfort Ride side

That’s right — the Japanese automaker is eschewing conventional pneumatic rollers in favour of this new lightweight technology it’s experimenting with for the first time. The unconventional approach is born out of necessity, because the FCR utilizes individual motors inside each wheel (read: heavy) to propel itself. The design, which is still in concept stage but aimed at being 30 per cent lighter than normal tires, is comprised of a band of rubber wrapped around a hub made from plastic and aluminum. As an added benfit, they also aren’t prone to punctures or require tire pressure maintenance.  

Toyota Fine-Comfort Ride interior

The “premium saloon” is intended to wrap up to six occupants in comfort, featuring a diamond-shaped cabin that is wider up front maximizing passenger space and allowing flexible seat adjustments. The extra manoeuvrability comes in handy to access the wrap-around touch display built into the side windows — containing a virtual Agent to cater to all of a user’s infotainment needs — as well as for tailoring to specific posture requirements or facilitating face-to-face communication. Thanks to the wheels positioned at the extreme corners of the car, a high level of ride comfort and quiet operation is achieved.  

Toyota Fine-Comfort Ride dashboard

Unlike regular electric vehicles that take at least 30 minutes to reach a near-full charge, the single onboard hydrogen pack in the FCR can be conveniently refilled in less than three minutes. There are rumours of autonomous driving capability, although no details have been released. The only other official specifications available are the dimensions, measuring at 4,830 millimetres in length, 1,950 width and 1,650 height with a wheelbase of 3,450 millimetres.

Toyota Fine-Comfort Ride rear