CES 2020

Meet the Audi AI:ME, a futuristic third place for autonomous vehicle occupants

Audi introduced the AI:ME concept car at CES 2020.

Photo courtesy of Audi AG

Starbucks used to be the go-to third space for people not wanting to go to work or be at home. Audi is taking that idea one step further with the debut of the AI:ME concept vehicle.

The model features futuristic technology like eye tracking to communicate with the car when using things like gesture control or tapping a screen become too taxing. Audi fantasizes that the vehicle's occupants could enjoy a "wellness experience" consisting of donning a pair of virtual reality goggles and "flying" over a mountain landscape.

Audi AI:ME

Photo courtesy of Audi AG

Audi says that the concept car would adapt virtual content to the movement of the vehicle in real time allowing passengers to truly relax and get away from their hectic routine. So, basically the opposite of hopping on the train to get to work.

Technology in the car could also be used to order food and have it delivered to a vehicle's destination at the appropriate time using personal preferences and the vehicle's navigation data.

The concept car features the "Audi Intelligence Experience", which the automaker says makes the car think for itself, getting to know a user's habits. This technology is already integrated into the current generation Audi MMI system. In that form it saves preferred destinations; connects drivers with the date, time and current traffic situation; and it derives suggested routes from this data. In the future it could "conduct a precise analysis of the functions and settings that its user prefers, ranging from the seat position, media, route guidance and temperature to the fragrance of the interior" according to a release.

There are currently no autonomous vehicles for sale today, despite the keywords used and hype generated in media.

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Nuts & Bolts

 
 

The design study gives customers an idea of what to expect out of the next-gen QX60

Photo courtesy of Infiniti Motors

It’s not the next-gen Infiniti QX60, but it is darn close. The Infiniti QX60 Monograph is a concept car and design study of the forthcoming new version of the three-row SUV.

"We commenced the design of the Monograph knowing this was an opportune time to start a discussion about where we are planning to take the QX60 in the future and more broadly, where we are heading as a brand with our design language'" said Alfonso Albaisa, senior vice president, Global Design, Nissan Motor Co. Ltd.

Infiniti QX60 Monograph Slim headlights and an athletic stance make the face of the SUV unique.Photo courtesy of Infiniti Motors

Consider it a detailed plan. Even Infiniti itself is relaying that the QX60 Monograph “provides tangible insight” into the new model from proportions to design elements. With the new QX60, Infiniti looks to not break the mold, which their buyers love, but instead refine what customers expect.

"In crafting this Monograph, we wanted to change the tonality of the QX60 and transform the nameplate from a sculptural and architectural point of view. We raised the visual center of gravity, giving it a strong, straight shoulder line that carries through to the hood, with a higher, more prominent grille, and longer-looking cabin to deliver a sense of muscularity and a commanding presence" Albaisa said.

The QX60 Monograph is more muscular than the current QX60, with distinctive athletic styling that sets it apart from the usual SUV crowd and gives it its own Infiniti identity. A long wheelbase, teardrop-like greenhouse, and sweeping lines give the SUV a new profile. A horizontal window line and wide backside are designed to give the concept a sense of poise and stability.

Infiniti QX60 Monograph The SUV’s grille features a fresh design.Photo courtesy of Infiniti Motors

Infiniti is showcasing the QX60 Monograph with a platinum plant color that mimics the qualities of liquid metal. It features a black roof that is on-trend for the current design environment. On top of the car is a panoramic roof that features a “kimono fold” pattern.

"The QX60 Monograph embodies the Japanese concept of 'Ma,' a sense of minimalism where designers seek harmony, adding just the right amount of elements with very specific meaning to create something special. This is evident on the body, where at a glance it is simple, but when you get closer, you see that there are elements that are playing against each other in a sense of harmony." Albaisa explains.

At the front of the SUV is a new take on the traditional Infiniti grille - a two dimensional surface that projects a sense of three-dimensional depth. It’s a mesh pattern that repeats on the car’s side intakes.

Infiniti QX60 Monograph Infiniti has given the SUV a black roof.Photo courtesy of Infiniti Motors

Infiniti calls the lighting at the front and rear of the SUV “Digital Piano Key” technology saying that it projects a “futuristic appearance”. The taillights are tinted and appear to wrap around the sides of the vehicle. The lamps are accompanied by a glowing “infinite road” brand emblem.

Infiniti QX60 Monograph The model’s taillights appear to wrap around the vehicle.Photo courtesy of Infiniti Motors

The interior of the model was not shown and not detailed as part of this design study. It is expected that a thoroughly modern, new interior is on tap for the next-gen QX60.

The production version of the next generation QX60 is expected in 2021.

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Southern California is one of the hotspots for pollution in the U.S.

Photo by Getty Images

California is the country's largest new vehicle sales market. It's also in the crosshairs of climate change activists fighting to change decades of regulations in an effort to improve the livelihoods of the state's residents while also benefitting the plants and animals that live in the state.

Governor Gavin Newson today issued an executive order requiring sales of all new passenger vehicles to be zero-emission by 2035. This means that the sales of gasoline- and diesel-powered vehicles will be banned in favor of battery electric (BEV) and hydrogen fuel cell (FCEV) vehicles.

That goal is poised to eliminate 35 percent of the greenhouse gas emissions and 80 percent of the oxides of nitrogen emissions from cars statewide, according to the State.

Data from the State shows that the transportation sector is responsible for more than half of all California's carbon pollution. Eighty percent of the that is from smog-forming pollution while 95 percent is from diesel emissions. The transportation sector includes passenger vehicles as well as shipping and other forms of mobility.

"This is the most impactful step our state can take to fight climate change," said Governor Newsom. "For too many decades, we have allowed cars to pollute the air that our children and families breathe. Californians shouldn't have to worry if our cars are giving our kids asthma. Our cars shouldn't make wildfires worse – and create more days filled with smoky air. Cars shouldn't melt glaciers or raise sea levels threatening our cherished beaches and coastlines."

The next steps include the California Air Resources Board developing regulations to mandate that 100 percent of in-state sales of new passenger cars and trucks are zero-emission by 2035. Additionally, medium- and heavy-duty vehicles are mandated to be 100 percent zero emission by 2045 where feasible, with the mandate going into effect by 2035 for drayage trucks.

The move to all-BEV and FCEV vehicles won't eliminate the pollutants spewed by vehicles purchased prior to 2035 or the purchase of used vehicles.

This isn’t the first time California has attempted to regulate electrified vehicles into popularity. Despite the state’s efforts, BEVs, FCEVs, and plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEVs) are unpopular among buyers nationwide. Out of the 17 million vehicles sold in the U.S. in 2019, just 330,000 of them were plug-in electric cars (BEVs and PHEVs) with 80 percent of those being Teslas. Only 7,000 FCEVs were sold or leased during the same period.

Additionally, “the executive order directs state agencies to develop strategies for an integrated, statewide rail and transit network, and incorporate safe and accessible infrastructure into projects to support bicycle and pedestrian options, particularly in low-income and disadvantaged communities” according to a release by the Governor’s office.

Earlier this year, the California Air Resources Board has approved new regulations requiring truck manufacturers to transition to electric zero-emission trucks beginning in 2024.

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