For many years, I spent the first week of January at the huge Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, but this year, I’m covering it from home. The show went on, and some people and companies decided to attend in person, but like many journalists covering CES, I didn’t want to risk Omicron’s exposure. Many exhibitors also stopped sending
Staff for the show this year.
Although I don’t miss the crowds and expensive hotel rooms, I do miss seeing friends, meeting technical executives, and taking a closer look at the gadgets on display.
I also miss my annual drive from Silicon Valley to Las Vegas where I get to try out new auto-tech. On one of these drives I first tested a dashcam and a device that brought Amazon Alexa to my car. In 2019, I met in a Tesla Model 3 for my first road trip, getting a taste of what autonomous driving might feel like, despite Tesla’s “autopilot” at the time wasn’t nearly as sophisticated as it is now.
When I attended CES in person, I spent a lot of my time in the North Hall, where auto companies and ancillary manufacturers showed off new products. Although there were a lot of boring products (there are only so many in-car subwoofers that I love to see and hear), there have also been some innovations, including an early look at electric and autonomous vehicles and some interesting aftermarket products to upgrade to a car Are included. audio system. In many ways, I found that section of CES to be more interesting than the main hall where companies like Samsung, LG, and Sony showed off giant high-definition TVs. From the show floor, one TV looks exactly the same except for the super-large ones or the ones that fold up. Such TVs are either too large for most living rooms, too expensive for most consumers, or both.
Streaming and the future of cars
Even though I didn’t attend CES in person this year, they streamed some press events and keynotes, so I was able to virtually attend GM CEO Mary Barra’s keynote address. Barra himself was remote, broadcasting for CES and streaming audiences from Detroit.
It’s clear that GM is paying a lot of attention to Tesla, and if what Barra promised at CES becomes a reality, it could challenge Tesla both in terms of its EV capabilities and autonomous features. “Our goal is to deliver our first personal autonomous vehicles as early as the middle of this decade,” Barra said. “We are working to be the fastest on the market with a retail personal autonomous vehicle.”
Whether the GM will be first is debatable. Tesla CEO Elon Musk promised that Tesla owners like me will be able to rent our cars as roboticaxis by the end of 2020. That hasn’t happened, but the company has a still-buggy beta version of its so-called “Full.” “self-driving” software that I and many other Tesla owners have been using for the past several weeks.
Like most other automakers, GM is taking small steps towards self-driving. In July, it announced that some of its 2022 models would be equipped with Super Cruise which offers automatic lane changing on certain roads, the ability to pull a trailer while driving hands-free, and an advanced navigation screen. In October, it announced Ultra Cruise, which, according to Barra, will “ultimately enable hands-free driving in 95 percent of all driving scenarios”. By comparison, Tesla’s full self-driving beta works on almost every road I’ve tried it on, though not always as well as one might expect.
Electric Silverado Truck
GM’s big CES unveiling is an all-electric Chevrolet Silverado pickup, which should be available in early 2023. The truck will compete with Ford’s F150 Lightning, a pickup from Rivian, and eventually Tesla. Barra said the new pickup will have a GM estimated range of more than 400 miles and a starting price of $39,900 for a “work truck.” A fully loaded “RST” version will cost over $100,000 when it becomes available later in 2023.
Barra also talked about GM’s new Altifi platform, which will enable the carmaker to provide over-the-air software upgrades, similar to what Tesla has long offered to its owners. One difference between GM and Tesla is that GM says it is making Altify “developer friendly” to encourage third-party developers to enhance its vehicles, the same way that Apple and Google allow developers to enhance their vehicles. Allows building apps for smartphones.
Barra said GM’s ultimate goal is to create a world with “zero emissions, zero crashes and zero congestion.” While electric cars already have zero emissions and autonomous cars should at least reduce the risk of accidents, reaching zero congestion will be extremely challenging. But GM showed off a concept idea for a flying car that could ease congestion for those lucky and wealthy enough to get around town by air. I’m torn between taking a quick trip in a flying car or traveling comfortably and luxuriously in another concept car they unveiled, InnerSpace, which was described as “a luxury hotel room on wheels” .
It’s great that nearly all major automakers are pushing back for an all-electric, and ultimately, autonomous future. I, for one, look forward to resuming my annual tradition of a CES road trip, from a legacy card company like GM or Ford, in a high-tech vehicle.
Larry Magid is a technology journalist and Internet security activist.