The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) has become just as much a centerstage for automakers as auto shows. In 2015, German automaker Volkswagen introduced a batch of new technology that it aims to implement into its Golf family of vehicles, among others.
Volkswagen highlights four elements during CES:
- Computer-controlled drive systems
- App and smartphone integration
- Intuitive vehicle operation
- Autonomous and semi-autonomous driving
“The two inventions of the century, the car and the computer, are gradually coming closer together”, said Prof. Dr. Martin Winterkorn, CEO of Volkswagen AG. “We need to design future mobility to be even more intelligent and even more networked”.
The German automaker exuded its four key points in two vehicle concepts, one being the Volkswagen Golf R Touch and the Connected Golf.
Volkswagen Golf R Touch
The Volkswagen Golf R Touch embodies advanced gesture controls with the goal of replacing physical touch screens with hand gestures the computer can understand to execute tasks while driving. Today, VW touchscreens can already sense when the hand is approaching the screen to be pressed, but in the future, Volkswagen wants to use cameras to detect hand motions. Not only will such cameras understand the motions, but the computer will assign meaning to them as well. The technology is already on display in the Golf R Touch concept being shown at the 2015 CES in Las Vegas.
The development team behind the concept pursued the idea with the thought of reducing distracted driving, even though the complexity of systems continues to grow. The team also aimed to maximize driver personalization inside with the new technology, which leads us to what the concept is equipped with.
The car has three displays:
- The 12.8-inch high-resolution touchscreen that allows the control of the infotainment system
- The 8.0-inch Control Center with touch feedback placed beneath the 12.8-inch screen that allows the user to control vehicle, climate control and media functions, and
- The 12.-3-inch Active Information Display that digitalizes the instrument cluster
Any one of the displays has the ability to be customized rapidly, similar to today’s smartphone. The same goes for the color of the ambient lighting in the concept’s cabin.
The Connected Golf
The Volkswagen Connected Golf concept is pretty much an e-Golf with the same smart features mentioned above, but is meant to highlight vehicle connectivity and autonomy. The vehicle features App-Connect, which allows the Golf to recognize Apple’s CarPlay, Android Auto and — for the first time — MirrorLink. Media control will allow passengers’ tablets and even smart watches to sync and become usable over the car’s infotainment system.
The Connected Golf also includes systems such as Regular Routes, which automatically suggests a better route autonomously if the navigation reveals delays in the daily commute. Parking Guide scans for lots with the highest percentage of available spaces.
Volkswagen also debuted several other advancements in parking and charging technology at CES 2015.
It all begins with painting a picture for future e-Golf owners. Volkswagen suggests that in the near future, it will be possible that inductive charging will be used as an alternative to cable-based charging. Moving even more along the evolution of electric charging, it will be possible to know in seconds whether the vehicle is still charging, or has fully charged, all by glancing at the exterior lighting. And thanks to future in-vehicle connectivity, the e-Station Guide will direct e-Golf owners to the closest charging locations, as well as provide detailed information on the equipment and cost for re-charging.
In terms of parking, Volkswagen currently offers the parking assist feature to help drivers maneuver in and out of parallel spaces, something drivers certainly appreciate. With this technology, sensors and computers take control of wheel movements to keep the car on the ideal path to enter and exit spots with ease. And now, VW has introduced an evolutionary step in semi-autonomous parking with what it call Trained Parking.
With this technology, the e-Golf uses the rear-view camera to scan a frequently-used path into a parking space. Let’s use your home’s driveway as an example. From there, the computer takes the wheel semi-autonomously and executes the parking job precisely as a human would. In a move out of a 007 movie, Volkswagen foresees a not-too-distant future where the driver will not have to park the vehicle at all. Using VW’s digital key technology, which may also start, stop, lock and unlock the car, the driver would simply monitor the vehicle as it executes a parking job through their smartphone.
There you have it, the German automaker has brought forth a slew of new technology to mull over in our heads in the near future, allowing us to see just how close we are to a truly “smart car.”