The Upgrade

A New Vision for the Future of Driving

At CES, car companies are showcasing new designs that will fundamentally alter the automotive experience

Lance Ulanoff
Published in
6 min readJan 9, 2019


Toyota’s Dr. Gill Pratt explains Toyota Guardian system. All photos: Lance Ulanoff

If the last 15 years was the age of the smartphone, the next 15 promise to be the dawn of the smart car.

Our stalwart, four-wheel friends are riding a wave of interest and innovation to become the most important mobile technology in our lives. And nowhere is this trend more evident than at CES 2019.

Spurred by the rise of mobile broadband, zero-emission technologies, and the promise of self-driving vehicles, auto tech has attracted the attention not just of traditional car manufacturers, but of software, hardware, and silicon companies.

Car companies and their partners are imagining car intelligence that recognizes the needs of a new type of customer that’s less interested in actually owning and driving a vehicle.

In my first 48 hours at CES’s parade of private and press events, I lost track of how many companies mentioned cars, autonomy, integrated intelligence, and the incredible promise of 5G for car-to-car communication.

At a breakfast hosted by BMW, company execs painted a vibrant picture of a near future called BMW Vision iNEXT, where the traditional car controls — all those annoying buttons — fade away in favor of voice, touch, and gesture control.

BMW’s all-electric IX3.

Everyone wants to replace the traditional dashboard with screens. Byton showed off an all-electric car with a display as wide as seven iPads, per CNET. And because you can’t have too many screens, Byton put one in the steering wheel, too.

Qualcomm’s all-screen dashboard is the wave of the future.

Cars have always been a collection of sourced parts, but unless you were a car nut, you really didn’t know much about where…



Lance Ulanoff

Tech expert, journalist, social media commentator, amateur cartoonist and robotics fan.