Expanded VIP tours draw questions on technology, alt fuels

Expanded VIP tours draw questions on technology, alt fuels

This year the show saw an expanded roster of VIP tours, with three expert guides giving 14 tours. Weekend tours sold out quickly. Once show-goers discovered that the $35 ticket price included admission to the show, they brought their children on the tour, too.

Tour-goers were especially interested in alternative fuel sources and new technologies for safety and connectivity, said veteran auto journalist and host of Cruise Control Radio, Les Jackson, who gave eight tours.

–As I was explaining all the technologies, one question that came up was how the vehicles will connect with oneês smartphone,” Jackson said. –All the apps will be on the car screen.”

Others asked about hackers. –One guy said, •Whatês to keep someone from hacking into my car and preventing me from starting my car unless I pay a ransom?ê ” The first tour had included an FBI chief of security, so Jackson was able to answer that the auto companies are working with the FBI on hacking.

Another tour-goer asked Jackson if hacking could be permanently prevented. Auto journalist Jackson, who also has a physics background, expounded on quantum mechanics and optical computers as he explained that the next generation of computers would make it impossible to hack a carês central intelligence system. It became clear to many visitors that the WAS had engaged very learned tour guides. Jackson told his tours about autonomous and semi-autonomous technologies, including intelligent cruise control, lane departure warning and automatic braking. –These are technologies people arenêt even aware of,” he said. –Itês coming out because of safety, not just gadgetry.”

People wanted to know when driverless cars would hit the road. In two years, said Jackson, Volvo will offer self-parking cars, and it is currently testing fully autonomous cars on roads in Sweden. But it could take 10 years before they are available in the U.S.

–We have 200 million vehicles registered that arenêt self-driving,” Jackson said. –For the whole system to be efficient, vehicles have to talk to one another.” The technology is ready now, but its progress will depend on economic, legal and insurance factors.

TV journalists John Davis of Motor Week and Alvin Jones of Planet Vehicle also gave tours. –Visitors liked the idea that someone was there to walk them around,” Jones said. –I got everyoneês name. It was like a car safari,” he said. –Each person had a favorite car. As we went by it, you could see how that person would glow.”

When Jones saw automaker product specialists he knew from covering other auto shows, he would introduce his tour group to the specialist who typically would launch into their product specialist spiel. A man Jones knew at Aston Martin Bentley let the tour-goers have their picture taken in one of the cars.

–The Auto Show is still that thing for people of all ages,” Jones said. –The inner child comes out.”

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