While the big car companies with their fancy technology concept cars get all the attention, there are hundreds of cool little items sprinkled throughout the almost 3 million square feet of Las Vegas Convention Center where CES buzzes for a full week. Here are some favorites from those hundreds.
Roborace is a series planned for autonomous, driverless electric cars to be run on the same tracks used by Formula E. Formula E CEO Alejandro Agag announced in 2015 that the FIA’s only all-electric open-wheel race series would add a driverless, autonomous support series. While the Roborace series has hesitated and chugged and not yet gotten off the ground a few years later, the race cars themselves are really, really cool. One was parked at the booth of chipmaker and current series sponsor Nvidia at CES, and if it wasn’t all robot all the time, with no seat nor any accommodation for a human anywhere inside it, you’d want to jump in and take it for a few laps of the Convention Center’s North Hall.
The cars are just under 16 feet long, weigh just over 2,200 pounds and are powered by massive 540-kWh batteries. They are festooned with sensors, as robocars must be: 5 LIDAR, 2 radar, 1 GPS, 5 cameras and 15 ultrasonic sensors. There are electric motors in each of the four open wheels, which allows for all kinds of traction control and cornering tricks. Competition would come down to which team could best program its car to lap the track. In theory, it would be fast, close racing with no fear of injury to any driver. It sounds like a great new spectator sport. But, as noted, the series is still stalled in the pits.
The Electra Meccanica Solo is a one-seat electric car that sells for $15,500. Or will sell. This year, they say.
Remember Intermeccanica? The company that made the Imp, Apollo GT, Indra, Murena and the Italia now makes 356 and Kubelwagen replicas in Vancouver. That company was founded by Frank Reisner. Frank’s son Henry now runs it and is a partner with Jerry Kroll in making the car you see here, the Electra Meccanica. Since 2014, they have been developing this three-wheel, all-electric single-seater ultimate commuter pod. So the rig has provenance.
And while it sure looks similar to a Corbin Sparrow, company representatives I spoke with outside CES said it was not related to that ill-fated flop. This one has a 16.1-kWh lithium-ion battery, bigger than a Mitsubishi iMiEV’s, good for a claimed range of 100 miles. Top speed is listed at 82 mph, 0-60 at 8.0 seconds. The chassis is aluminum honeycomb. Plans are to build 2,000 of them this year in China and 75,000 a year by 2020. U.S. price will be $15,500. What could possibly go wrong?
myfc makes a tiny fuel cell for recharging devices, but has plans to make fuel cell range extenders for electric cars.
While you may have the newest/most expensive/most whatever mobile phone, you probably still have to charge via one of those little Snickers bar-size portable batteries. And you call yourself a tech nerd! You haven’t charged until you have your own pocket-size fuel cell. Yes, a fuel cell smaller than a pack of Las Vegas playing cards. myfc is a Swedish company that makes this coolest of gizmos. You have a fuel card the size and shape of a credit card that houses water, salt and a proprietary mix of various scientific goop. You slide the card into the charger — the larger playing card pack-thing — and the resulting reaction makes hydrogen. The hydrogen goes through the fuel-cell stack that starts separating the electrons from everything else and voila, you’re making electricity! You will be King Nerd, with all the rights and responsibilities therein.
What does this have to do with cars? They are planning to make a fully working car powered by this technology this year. They can also make range extenders for electric cars using these. If you need me, I’ll be in Sweden.
Connected Signal takes signal light data from municipalities and sends it to your phone so you never hit red lights!
Do you hate red lights? Do you shake your fist and recite the same speech at every red light about how it’s a conspiracy against you and it only turns red when it sees you coming, and if we can put a man on the moon why can’t we use technology to turn lights green when there’s no one even coming from the other direction, etc.? I know I do. Well, by simply downloading this free app, you can have a readout on your phone that tells you what speed to drive your car to catch only green lights. Your life will be transformed.
How do they do it? It turns out that many, if not most, big cities control their traffic lights. That control information is available to the common man if you know where to look. Connected Signals takes that information and combines it with GPS so it knows where you are, which direction you’re going and what light you’re getting close to. It then sets a pace for you so you’ll never have to wait at a red light again. At least that’s what I hope it does.
The plan is to integrate this technology into onboard navigation systems and into autonomous cars for better traffic flow and to increase gas mileage. Yay!
Derive stops the bad drivers in your family or company from driving bad. Or is it badly?
Don’t trust your teen behind the wheel? Don’t trust the kid you hired to deliver pizzas? Attach a Derive monitor to the car and the 16-year-old won’t be able to exceed the speed limit. Add enough Derives and they can all intervene in the fleet’s powertrains to keep the squadron of pizza delivery boys you’ve hired to run your pizza empire all under the legal speed limit. The Derive Automotive Platform upgrades your car’s software to dynamically cap top speed and/or keep drivers safe with seat belt-dependent ignition. The Derive VQ hardware plug-in uses 4G LTE and Bluetooth to offer things like crash detection, dynamic speed governors and even torque management. No more drag-racing delivery boys!
AEV Technologies electric truck
AEV Technologies electric trucks
This is sooo cute! AEV Technologies makes little electric trucks that you can register for the street as Neighborhood Electric Vehicles. Granted, they don’t go over 25 mph, but it looks like maybe you wouldn’t want to go faster than that anyway. Pictured here is the AEV 411 with swing-down truck box. But you can also order it as a flat bed or a van box. You can even get a dump truck! The price starts at $14,999. It’s all-electric with a range of 50 miles from the 13.4-hp motor. There’s even AM/FM radio and a backup camera. The 511 model is AWD all-electric, while the 311 is a tandem-seat commuter with open sides. Did I mention that it’s cute?