A revolution is in the offing as to how information is presented to drivers, with all-new dashboard displays, navigation information, and warnings flashed onto the windshield in front of the driver.  -  Photo: Jack Roberts

A revolution is in the offing as to how information is presented to drivers, with all-new dashboard displays, navigation information, and warnings flashed onto the windshield in front of the driver.

Photo: Jack Roberts

Jack Roberts, executive editor of Heavy Duty Trucking, sister publication to Automotive Fleet was in Las Vegas for CES 2024. Here are his thoughts on this year’s tech trends.

A technology revolution is transforming transportation — from bicycles to passenger cars to commercial vehicles to airliners to massive container ships. And nowhere is the depth and reach of fast-approaching change more palpable than at CES 2024. 

Here you’ll find transportation and technology companies that are highlighting their wares while talking about the trends and troubles facing the industry today.

Takeaways from CES 2024

Here are three takeaways from this year’s show:

1. The Software-Defined Vehicle Takes Shape

It is obvious now that software will become the dominating factor in automotive design. The idea is obvious: Cars will become rolling computers with OEMs and outside suppliers providing a vast array of apps and special features designed to heighten safety and increase comfort for drivers and passengers alike. 

But the average passenger car today already has more than 10 million lines of code running various vehicle systems. Many times, these codes are written by multiple providers. And no one seems certain what services consumers will be willing to buy monthly subscriptions for — or simply expect to have as part of the vehicle’s purchase price. 

Automotive companies are eyeing the iPhone and airline business model in hopes of having consumers pay them monthly subscription fees for various apps and functions in the vehicles. But it’s anyone’s guess how those efforts will eventually play out.

A new camera/radar safety system monitors passengers and the driver inside a vehicle to watch for distracted driving or even unattended children and pets.  -  Photo: Jack Roberts

A new camera/radar safety system monitors passengers and the driver inside a vehicle to watch for distracted driving or even unattended children and pets.

Photo: Jack Roberts

2. In-Cabin Monitoring Takes the Stage

Beginning this year, every motor vehicle sold in Europe is required to have interior camera systems monitoring drivers. And the U.S. is considering similar regulations in the future.

Several companies at CES 2024 this year, notably Bosch, have introduced new in-vehicle cameras and radar systems that can monitor drivers to make sure they are awake and not intoxicated. They can identify objects inside the vehicle such as smartphones or laptops to make sure drivers are not distracted. 

And Bosch’s in-cabin radar system can help detect objects out of the line of sight that cameras cannot, to detect infants or even pets left unattended in vehicles. This new trend seems poised for rapid growth and is certainly worth watching.

3. An All-New Driver/Passenger-Vehicle Interface

It’s taken a while, but very soon, the interior of your vehicle will look a lot like a computer screen. Several technology suppliers at CES 2024 showcased brand-new dashboards that bring modern computing icons, graphics, and information into the vehicle. AUO has a particularly compelling suite of display systems. 

And soon, even special coatings on windows will allow real-time information, including navigation prompts and alerts to be flashed onto the windshield in front of the driver. Passengers will receive descriptions of landmarks, or even advertisements or special offers from buildings and businesses the vehicle they are in drives past. 

These window display screens can be used both ways: On commercial vehicles, for example, a driver might get a heads-up on the front windshield telling her which loading dock to make a delivery. Meantime, a QR code with information on the shipment and the cargo can flash on the outside windshield to be scanned by a dock worker and expedite the shipment onward to its final destination.

All these technology tracks — and many others — are coming together quickly on automotive platforms. The promise they offer is enticing. But, there are still many questions to be answered and much work is to be done as we all move toward a truly fascinating near future in transportation.

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