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BMW, Nissan, Hyundai and Audi autonomous systems on show | CES 2017

The car industry’s push towards autonomous cars has been put on show at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, with four of the mainstream manufacturers trotting out the latest they have to offer in driverless motoring.

CES is fast becoming the biggest stage for brands to showcase their latest technologies, and with the rise in autonomy the 2017 show was a bumper edition.

Audi announced that it has expanded its partnership with North American tech group Nvidia and Israeli tech firm Mobileye, as part of a plan that will help advance Ingolstadt’s Piloted Driving autonomous driving program.

The latest instalment of the project has produced a Q7 large SUV which has been installed with Nvidia tech including a core ‘central driver assistance controller’ called zFAS, which uses a processor and two megapixel front camera to help the Q7 negotiate a dedicated track without human intervention.

What sets this system apart is its ability to learn from the environment and the way the driver reacts to it, adapting on the fly.

 The vehicles then use the data to learn to adapt themselves, eventually making control centre redundant.

The technology, which Audi is calling artificial intelligence, will first appear in some form of production in the next-gen A8 large sedan.

Mobileye, who is providing the image processing chip for zFAS, has worked with Audi, providing forward-facing cameras for a number of existing driver assistance systems, while Nvidia first started its relationship with the German brand while contributing processors for its virtual cockpit system.

Hyundai also used CES to conduct an autonomous demonstration of its Ioniq electric car on Las Vegas roads, hiding all of its cameras and other technology behind the front bumper, giving the impression of a regular car.

Its system of sensors borrows some technology from the production version, showing that converting hardware to suit autonomous driving is a relatively simple process.

BMW wheeled out a prototype 5 Series equipped with the newest version of the brand’s ConnectedDrive systems, as well as showcasing its HoloActive Touch contactless control system with the announcement that it will rollout a fleet of 40 development autonomous 7 Series limos on US and European roads.

Nissan pulled out all the stops in its autonomous driving demonstration by putting chairman and CEO Carlos Ghosn behind the wheel while showcasing its Seamless Autonomous Mobility (SAM) system, which tackles the problem of unusual or exceptional driving situations that an autonomous vehicle may not be able to compute.

SAM is used in unusual driving situations such as arriving at the site of a crash and, instead of trying to negotiate the scenario itself, the system calls on outside help. 

The car uses an up-link to NASA’s Ames Research centre to contact a human ‘mobility manager’ who can instruct the car what to do, and then the information provided by the operator is sent to all other vehicles in its network to build an action plan for similar circumstances. 

The idea is that the vehicles then use the data to learn to adapt themselves, eventually making control centre redundant.

Nissan also used CES to announce that it will move its autonomous tech program to commercial vehicles this year, with the goal of conducting on-road mobility service trials in Tokyo by 2020.

How soon do you think it will be before we see fully-autonomous vehicles on the road? Tell us what you think in the comments below.

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