When I arrived at the Kerry Hotel at 8:00am, CES Asia 2019 immediately caught my attention with its enormous venue at Shanghai New International Expo Center, attracting 550 exhibitors from 18 countries around the world. This was the first time I attended CES Asia, and I was especially excited that this event was in Shanghai, an amazing city where I had lived for 14 years before I immigrated to the United States with my family. I recently graduated from University of California, Berkeley and came back to Shanghai to work as a Marketing intern at VIA Technologies, Inc.
CES Asia 2019 showcased groundbreaking technologies and products from a wide array of industries, such as automotive, AI (Artificial Intelligence), 5G, and VR/AR (Virtual Reality/Augmented Reality). The automotive industry had a particularly strong presence, demonstrating the latest EVs and autonomous driving technologies.
Since Tesla announced a deal with the Shanghai government to build an electric vehicle plant, Gigafactory 3, Shanghai has become a development and production hub for electric vehicles in Asia. Electric vehicles are becoming increasingly popular in China because they are more environmentally-friendly than traditional petroleum-powered vehicles and are coming closing to matching them in terms of cost, range, and performance.
There were around 70 companies showcasing their cutting-edge vehicle technologies at the show, and around 15 of them released new electric vehicles. Many Chinese brands producing electric vehicles demonstrated them in N4 and N5, including Hozon, Aiwave and Enovate. For example, Hozon released its first SUV, the Eutrka 01, with L2 autonomous driving and a transparent and futuristic A-pillar design. Featuring 77G millimeter wave radar, the Eutrka 01 promises to help users to better identify potential road hazards.
Similarly, Mercedes also released its brand new EQC. This mid-size full-electric SUV isn’t Mercedes’ first electric vehicle, as it has a full-electric B-class and city stars from Smart. However, these past models have a problem of short scope and range. Not only can the new EQC offer long range performance, it can also be mass-produced along with other combustion-engine cars like the GLC and C-Class. Both Chinese and international OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) are placing a greater emphasis on the development of electric vehicles. In general, Chinese vendors are more focused on integrating advanced technology into their cars and other vendors like Mercedes are more interested in mass-producing and commercializing their electric vehicles.
The transformation to a smarter and safer driving experience is promising with the showcased vehicle technologies at CES Asia. Achieving high levels of autonomous driving is the current goal of most car companies, and the competition seems to be more intense as market standard becomes higher. In the future, 5G could solve many existing bottlenecks that most car companies face, such as signal bandwidth transmission, and could be organically integrated into the AI platforms currently being developed to achieve autonomy.
The Chinese AI startup ecosystem demonstrated its strong R&D abilities at the event. The Horizon Robotics booth featured the company’s Matrix Platform, which boosts the development of vehicle intelligence and self-driving technology. Using the platform, the company claims, vehicles can achieve L3 and L4 autonomous driving. Horizon also demonstrated achievements in real-time mapping and detection through NavNet and Lidar sensing solutions.
Another key startup in the automotive industry is NavNet, a monocular camera visual perception app which conducts data collection, recognition, and vectorization of 16 categories of maps through deep learning and SLAM (simultaneous localization and mapping) technology. Lidar sensing solutions provide real-time detection of pedestrians and vehicles. The company has collaborated with Tier 1 OEMs including Audi, Bosch, BYD, China Changan Automobile Group, and Shanghai Automotive (SAIC).
A world with 5G is quickly approaching. Not only will 5G have huge applications for mobile phones and the internet, but it will also have implications for the development of autonomous driving. For example, 5G promises to solve the problem of signal bandwidth transmission, which is very critical part of the development of self-driving cars. A 5G network will thus make cars safer and more connected. However, since the infrastructure isn’t mature yet, most auto companies only gave the technology a passing mention in their booths and demonstrations and focused much more strongly on promoting their latest new vehicles and autonomous driving technologies.
The auto industry, including both domestic and international manufacturers, had a huge presence at CES Asia in Shanghai. The trend towards electrification and autonomous driving is rapidly gathering momentum, and China will play a critical role in accelerating this transition in the future.
Written by Zac Yu, Intern at VIA Technologies, Inc.