CES in Las Vegas is the place where automakers and other companies give us a preview of car technology we can expect to see in the near and far term. For the second year, the Edmunds CES Tech Driven Awards honor the most innovative automotive technologies, vehicles, concepts or products debuting at CES by official CES exhibitors. These three awards serve as "best-in-show" recognition from the Edmunds editors, taking into account both future tech potential and the likelihood of actual deployment. And the 2019 winners are ...
2019 Edmunds CES Tech Driven Award Winners
The Chinese startup Byton set out to prove that its high-tech EV concept from last year wasn't just pie in the sky. Byton announced that its first vehicle, the all-electric M-Byte, is expected to go on sale by the end of 2020, and it gave us a preview of the car's stunning interior, which is very close to the final design. What we like about the M-Byte is that while it's from a startup, it is leveraging technology from some familiar suppliers. The electric motors are made by Bosch, for example, and the voice control system can tap into Amazon's Alexa. Byton CEO and co-founder Carsten Breitfeld gave the world the BMW i8, which means there's some proven talent behind the design as well, and the early specs seem competitive, including a driving range of up to 325 miles. Some of the highlights of the M-Byte's interior are a wraparound dash with a 48-inch screen, touchscreens on the steering wheel and center console, and front seats that can rotate inward toward each other. The full production version will debut at CES Asia in Shanghai this June, and we should get to drive a prototype before the end of the year.
Valeo XtraVue Trailer
Valeo, an automotive supplier, impressed us with its XtraVue Trailer technology. This technology is aimed at anyone who's ever experienced the massive blind spot that occurs when towing a trailer. Valeo has come up with a clever solution. The system pairs the vehicle's rearview camera with another camera placed at the rear of the trailer, combining the two feeds into a single image that cuts out the trailer and pastes the background in its place. The driver can see what's behind the trailer via a live view in the infotainment screen or rearview mirror. We like this technology because it improves towing safety by allowing drivers to be more aware of their surroundings. While this first-of-its-kind technology is not available to consumers at the moment, we expect to see it as a factory option in the near future.
Once in a while, a concept is so far-out that we have to applaud its originality. The Elevate concept vehicle, by Hyundai's CRADLE division (that's Center for Robotic-Augmented Design in Living Experiences, if you're wondering), gives us a glimpse of a world in which cars can stand up on four legs and walk. The Elevate is what Hyundai calls the first "Ultimate Mobility Vehicle" (UMV). Not only would it function as a traditional vehicle, but its four robotic legs, each with 5 degrees of freedom, would also allow it to operate in "reptilian" or "mammalian" walking modes to navigate difficult terrain and even scale a 5-foot-high wall. In the case of natural disasters, the Elevate would be able to traverse debris and other obstacles to deliver assistance to those in need. Though we won't see the Elevate anytime soon, we are impressed with the potential it opens up for vehicles in rescue and relief work as it blends robotics with automotive technology.
Stay tuned for the second half of our 2019 Tech Driven Awards, which will recognize the three automakers that have done the best job of integrating state-of-the-art technology into currently available vehicles. An award will be presented in each of the following categories: In-Car Features, Engineering Technology Features, and Safety or Driving Aids. We'll announce the winners by the end of February 2019, so be sure to check back with us for all the details.