This story is part of our continuing coverage of CES 2020, including tech and gadgets from the showroom floor.
Concept cars have been a car show staple since the 1950s, when the visionaries of the day were showing off bubbletops and Batmobiles. So it only makes sense that now that CES is pretty much a car show, concepts are popping up everywhere here too. And not just ordinary concepts with big wheels and angular bodywork. Something about the glitz of Vegas and the possibilities of technology seems to send car designers off the deep end, and we’ve seen some wild stuff. From an Avatar-inspired ride to the first car ever from Sony, here are the car stars of CES 2020.
(And for cars you actually have a shot of driving someday, check out our list of the best cars of CES 2020!)
Audi reliably brings some high-brow concepts to CES every year, and 2020 brought us the AI:ME, a car inspired by the possibilities of level 4 autonomy. That means a steering wheel is required, but not necessary most of the time. To fill your time, Audi built an infotainment system with gaze detection, so you can choose your music station (or even a doughnut) by staring out the window.
No one expected Sony to pull a car out of its hat at CES, which made the Vision S concept all the more delightful. Designed to show off the parts that Sony can supply to carmakers, it’s studded with no fewer than 33 sensors, from cameras to lidar. The snow-white interior features a distinctively Sony design, with a screen that sweeps across the entire dash, plus screens on every seatback and 360-degree audio.
Why did Mercedes partner with James Cameron to build a concept based on his film Avatar? It’s unclear, but that didn’t diminish our enjoyment of the Vision AVTR, a wildly curvaceous pebble of a car that you would be hard-pressed to find a single flat surface on. Mercedes says it’s built of recyclable, eco-friendly materials, right down to a graphene battery that can be composted. The Na’vi would be proud.
Every carmaker sees autonomous driving in the future, but Honda doesn’t think you want to give up total control. Its quirky Augmented Driving Concept allows passengers to be shuttled around autonomously, but still react to the environment around them. For instance, a demo showed the car pulling over for a oceanside photo op with the wave of a hand, or slowing down to chat with a bicyclist.
Plug-in Jeeps were a nice touch at CES 2020, but the Airflow concept is what really got people talking. It boasts an extremely aerodynamic profile, with massive doors and four screens upfront for both controls and entertainment. Putting only four seats in a minivan-sized footprint makes the inside feel downright lounge-like.
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