Technology for autonomous vehicles (AVs) is redefining and reshaping the entire mobility industry, transforming not just how vehicles operate, but also how they interact with people and objects. For example, sensor technology that will enable AVs to “see” will also be equipped on traffic signals and infrastructure to collect data and utilize vehicle-to-everything (V2X) technology to “talk” to vehicles and pedestrians in smart cities of the near future.
The annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES), the largest consumer technology-focused conference in the U.S., is also known for attracting a huge presence from the technology companies that are shaping the mobility industry. With CES 2020 coming up in January, here are the mobility trends you are likely to see.
The mobility industry post-CES 2019
At CES 2019, we saw everything from self-driving vehicle debuts and autonomous helicopter concepts to new virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) demonstrations and personable robots. A few companies that made a splash with their notable transportation technology included BMW’s self-driving motorcycle, Audi and Disney’s in-vehicle VR gaming tech, Byton’s screen-laden cockpit and Hyundai’s concept for a walking car.
Since then, startups in the mobility industry have continued to receive large investments in the autonomy, connected car, electrification and smart mobility categories. According to a recent McKinsey report, in the last 24 months, there has been nearly $120 billion in disclosed investments in these categories, and the investment community shows no signs of slowing down. AV technology, particularly sensor suite solutions such as LiDAR and radar, have seen a significant boom in investment over the past year. All of this financial momentum, however, has not come without setbacks.
The mobility industry has also had some heated discussions about what sensor technology will make it into the AV production vehicles that are anticipated to hit the streets in 2020. For example, the CEO of Tesla, Elon Musk, denounced LiDAR on multiple occasions, which opened a discussion from thought leaders in the space, including executives from General Motors, Waymo and Velodyne, on the affordability of the technology. This has been one of the more newsworthy debates, with most experts agreeing that LiDAR technology is pivotal to activating level-four and level-five autonomy.
Furthermore, Crunchbase News senses there will be consolidation among LiDAR startups, and only a handful of companies will ultimately survive. Soon, the number of LiDAR companies will begin to “winnow down” as large amounts of investment go primarily into two or three companies capable of providing complete automotive-grade solutions.
Those who receive the largest funding are likely to show ambitions beyond LiDAR production into AI software and data analytics. LiDAR data in vehicles is interpreted for localization, path planning, obstacle avoidance and mapping. All the AV test fleets around the world generate a staggering amount of data that must be collected and interpreted to train perception algorithms. These algorithms must be safe and reliable to feed the control systems that will ultimately steer, brake and accelerate the vehicle to navigate the roads of the world autonomously.
What to look for at CES 2020
At CES 2020, we can expect to see the latest concept cars, live self-driving demonstrations, and data-driven software and services for the AV economy. OEMs depend on third-party advanced perception software for the safety of their AVs such as the one provided to BMW by Innoviz Technologies. LiDAR vendors will see increased value proposition by adding such automotive-grade software to their offerings. Thus, you can expect to see this topic brought up at the conference, as most experts view AI software as a major gap in the AV industry.
Automated shuttles are expected to thrive because they’ll make a big impact on passengers over the next two years. These shuttles will transport passengers on fixed, geofenced routes and are already being tested in pilot phases, so we can expect a myriad of startups giving free rides around the Las Vegas strip. This segment is particularly important for urban, tech-progressive cities like Austin and New York, which view these shuttles as something that will help daily commuters and ease traffic congestion.
These deployments will give riders more spare time inside a vehicle for increased productivity and entertainment. Thus, it’s a key opportunity for service providers to encourage in-vehicle transactions to sell additional products and services.
Lastly, there will be a big presence for 5G connectivity at CES 2020. Many industry experts believe that deployment of level-four and level-five vehicles will be expedited using high-bandwidth, low-latency cellular networks. Leading semiconductor companies such as Intel and Qualcomm are working toward network access devices (NAD) that will integrate inside AVs to bring high-quality infotainment services, offload edge computing needs and provide V2X communication, essentially turning AVs into mobile data centers.
This connectivity will also provide additional safety measures when self-driving vehicles fail to navigate in their operational design domains. Teleoperators will be able to assist stuck vehicles from remote locations over 5G networks due to the low latency. You can also expect to see the impact of 5G on rider experiences at CES 2020 from connected VR/AR headsets for in-vehicle entertainment.
There are more than 1.3 billion cars worldwide, and the pursuit of autonomy by major automakers and mobility companies is completely changing how vehicles are designed and developed. We’re seeing traditional OEMs and tier-ones evolving into technology companies as well as looking at ways to monetize vehicle and passenger data by offering unique services.
At CES 2020, attendees will see a flurry of autonomous shuttles, companies making the case for 5G implementation and increased demand for advanced perception software. Just like in years prior, it will be a huge event with an overwhelming introduction of new technologies. And hopefully these insights will help attendees interested in mobility make the most of their time at CES 2020.