CES 2021: Transportation tech promises a cleaner, safer future

The vehicle expo area of CES has been one of the most exciting parts of the trade show in recent years.

Given that attendees couldn’t see and interact with the real thing (or super-cool prototypes) this year, it just wasn’t the same.

But hopefully 2022 will bring the ability to gather in person again and experience new automotive technology close up. Because there are technological advances such as 5G and lidar that will make autonomous vehicles more than an aspirational concept within a few years. Many tech experts mentioned that the lack of latency, speed, and capacity of fully deployed 5G systems will make autonomous vehicles truly viable in the near future.

Mobileye, which was bought up by Intel in 2017, announced that it will use crowdsourced mapping, a camera-based computer vision system, and a lidar suite to safely put highly automated cars on the road by 2025. Pending regulatory approval, Mobileye plans to have test vehicles on New York City streets by the end of this year.

Just how complicated your car is going to get was highlighted by Bosch in a CES presentation. Chew on this … a typical car had 10 million lines of code in 2010. Bosch estimates there will be around 500 million lines of code in your car as autonomous and semi-autonomous technologies go into production. Nothing can go wrong, right?

In addition to exciting advancements in autonomous technology, the move to low-cobalt batteries, which will be better for the environment and less costly, is good news on the EV front.

Here is some of the cool technology that was on virtual display at CES 2021:


Mercedes Hyperscreen

If you pop for a Mercedes-Benz EQS electric luxury sedan this year, you’re going to want to make sure everybody looks at your dashboard because it’s going to, well, impressive. You and your passenger will each get 12 x 3-inch personal screens with an 18-inch control panel screen in between. Mercedes says the Hyperscreen with its all-touch functionality will prevent distractions, although it’s kind of hard to imagine how with a 55-inch HD screen immediately under your windshield.

EV 6000

GM BrightDrop

General Motors was all-in on CES this year, announcing lots of stuff that ranged from practical to concepts (flying taxi) that are likely to never see the light of day. One thing that will be showing up is BrightDrop, their electrified and connected delivery ecosystem. The EP1 delivery box can move up to three miles per hour, guided along by the touch of a delivery worker as he moves goods around the warehouse or delivers packages to homes. The box can carry up to 200 pounds of cargo. The EV600 is a light commercial delivery truck with a 250-mile range. Its sidewalk side opens up like the awning of a food truck for quick loading and unloading. Given the new reality that we’re shopping less in brick-and-mortar stores and ordering more online, technologies that make life easier on delivery workers is a very good thing.

Panasonic Heads Up Displayl

Panasonic AR HUD

Panasonic’s new 4K-resolution head-up display (HUD) mixes 2D information such as vehicle speed, speed limit, and fuel range with 3D overlays of navigation directions, which appear to be cast spatially onto the road ahead. The system calls out bicyclists with a yellow symbol on the display and highlight objects in the road, as well as accidents ahead. It has a 180-degree field of vision and can see 90 meters ahead across three lanes, detecting and displaying new information in less than 300 milliseconds. 

Sono Motors

Sion electric car

Sono Motors’ Sion electric car is covered with 245 solar “pucks” combined with a 35-kWh battery that can be charged through a standard EV charger. Its maximum range is 158 miles, but it can recharge itself enough for up to 21.7 miles daily if it’s sunny. Built in Sweden, it will launch first in Europe with an anticipated list price around $26,000.

Cadillac flyingtaxi 15012021

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