Your next car will change color, take directions like a NASA rover, and wink

Not long ago, automotive presence at CES was negligible at best. As the years has gone by, however,  cars have grown smarter and more connected. Because of this, CES is as relevant to mobility today as Detroit, New York, or Frankfurt. In some cases, maybe even more so.

This sentiment was on full display at CES 2017, because the industry was in full force on the show floor, the keynote stages, and all around Las Vegas. That said, this year’s show had a bit of a different flavor. There wasn’t a big production car reveal akin to the Chevy Bolt EV’s unveiling in 2016, but even though most of what we saw were concepts, there was plenty to digest. Follow along or click the video above for all our post-show thoughts.

Faraday’s future

Faraday Future FF 91
Bill Roberson/Digital Trends

Perhaps the biggest news to come out of CES — or at least the most hyped — was the debut of Faraday Future’s first pre-production vehicle. Dubbed the FF 91, the electric car is downright amazing on paper, with a 0 to 60 mph time that’ll make a Ferrari blush and more autonomous features than you can shake a stick at. Sounds great, right? Unfortunately, Faraday Future’s story isn’t all sunshine and rainbows.

Despite immense support from companies like LeEco and LG Chem, Faraday is in dire financial straits. Several executives have jumped ship recently, and to make matters worse, the group has suspended production of its manufacturing plant in Nevada. Faraday’s presentation was packed with hyperbole — the brand even compared itself to pioneers like Karl Benz and Tim Berners-Lee — even though it only had one “completed” car on the show floor, while the others had half-finished interiors and misaligned bodywork. We got the opportunity to ride in the car in Vegas, and while we were enamored with the car’s dynamics, the dark cloud surrounding the company makes its future very uncertain.

Will Faraday Future ever actually sell the FF 91 to customers? Gosh, we hope so.

Millennials in motion

Chrysler Portal
Andrew Hard/Digital Trends

Before we take the phrase, “Designed for millennials, by millennials,” into the backyard and bury it forever, let’s take one last look back at Chrysler’s Portal Concept. The product of FCA’s 20-year research project to determine what makes youngsters tick, the Portal is an amalgamation of vague characteristics that aim to define an entire demographic.

Millennials like to be driven, not drive, so the Portal features high levels of automation. They also crave customization, so the Portal wears color-changing LED panels all over its body so the occupant’s ride can match their moods. The design is futuristic and bold, of course, and the interior features slick touchscreens, tons docking ports, and loads of other connectivity options. We can’t help but poke fun at the car’s intentions, but if the Portal means Chrysler is serious about electric and driverless vehicles, we’ll give it a pass.

NASA in your Nissan

Nissan Seamless Autonomous Mobility

There was a lot to unpack from Nissan’s keynote address at CES, but if you love tech, one thing stood out in a big way. The brand announced a system called Seamless Autonomous Mobility (SAM), which was designed to monitor driverless cars remotely. Sam was Inspired by NASA’s ability to control interplanetary robots from afar, and uses humans called “mobility managers” to help autonomous cars deal with unpredictable situations.

Let’s say you’re riding along in your self-driving car and you encounter an obstacle. The only way around it is to cross a double yellow line or breach some other regulation. A human can deal with the situation easily — simply check to make sure it’s safe and move around the obstruction. Computers have trouble dealing with this grey area though, and that where the mobility manager comes in. By tapping into the car’s sensors and cameras, the manager can safely trace a new route, essentially telling the car it’s ok to (briefly) break the law so it can go about its business. As we shift from primarily analog driving to automated transportation, this type of human-machine cooperation will be paramount.


Exclusive: Take a look at what a next-generation 5G phone will look like

With 5G phones debuting at MWC in mere days, there is discussion about whether they will be clunky bricks that die after a few hours? A reference design from Qualcomm offerrs a glimpse of the future: This is what 5G phones will look like.

Need speed? Qualcomm unveils the Snapdragon X55, the world’s fastest 5G modem

Qualcomm is preparing for an even faster future: The silicon giant just unveiled a second generation 5G modem for smartphones, promising blistering download speeds as high as 7Gbps.
Emerging Tech

Descending at an angle could be key to landing heavier craft on Mars

Landing on Mars is a challenge: The heavier the craft, the more difficult a safe landing becomes. Scientists propose using retropropulsion engines and angling the craft to create a pressure differential to land heavier crafts in the future.
Movies & TV

You should read these epic sci-fi novels before they become blockbuster films

You can get ahead of the next crop of science-fiction movies coming out of Hollywood by picking up the books that inspired them. We compiled a list of books you can add to your reading list now to get a glimpse of the future.

2019 RAM 1500 Classic Warlock special edition: Badass style without the whoop

If you like the looks of blacked-out badass trucks without the cost of a desert racer, FCA announced the 2019 Ram 1500 Classic Warlock, a special edition pickup that focuses on appearance with only a touch of additional off-road capability.
Product Review

Mercedes-Benz updates the timeless G-wagen for the modern world

For decades, the G-Class has been an outlier in the Mercedes-Benz portfolio, a body-on-frame brute with the soul – and driving manners – of an off-road pickup. With the all-new G550, Mercedes seeks to smooth out some of the rough edges.

2020 GMC Acadia toughens up on the outside, gets smarter on the inside

The 2020 GMC Acadia crossover gets styling updates and a more rugged AT4 trim level. Under the skin, the Acadia sports a new turbocharged four-cylinder engine and a wider array of tech features.

Nissan is using old Leaf batteries to power and connect off-the-grid campers

Nissan has teamed up with trailer manufacturer Opus to design a mobile, weatherproof power pack built with battery cells sourced from the first-generation Leaf. Called Roam, the pack stores enough electricity to power a camper for up to a…

Alfa Romeo’s latest Ferrari-powered F1 race car is ready to hit the track

Alfa Romeo is doubling down on Formula One racing after a decades-long hiatus. Now essentially a support team for Ferrari, its 2019 driver lineup includes a former world champion and a potential future star.

Researchers teach self-driving cars to predict pedestrians’ next moves

University of Michigan researchers are developing a system that teaches self-driving cars to predict pedestrian movement. Humans don't always act in their own best self-interest, so autonomous cars will need to practice protective driving.

Subaru’s latest VIZIV concept car is pumped full of adrenaline

The Subaru VIZIV Adrenaline is the seventh member of the Japanese automaker's family of VIZIV concept cars. It debuts at the 2019 Geneva Motor Show, but for now, all we're getting is a shadowy teaser image.

Audi is advancing the tech that teaches cars to talk to traffic lights

Audi is teaching its cars the language of traffic lights. The company developed technology that tells motorists what speed they should drive at in order to catch as many green lights as possible.

Waymo rules and Apple trails in California self-driving car benchmarks

California's DMV releases annual reports of self-driving car disengagements on public roads. In the most recent reports. Waymo had the best performance, GM Cruise came in second, and Apple's self-driving program was in last place.

Watch a modified Audi e-tron electric SUV drive straight up a ski slope

A modified Audi e-tron climbed up an 85-percent gradient on an Austrian ski slope in a tribute to a classic Audi commercial. The vehicle used for the stunt sported an extra electric motor and spiked tires.
1 of 2