CES, Las Vegas 2016--
Without so much as a model vehicle on stage, Kia Motors laid out a vision for the future of automobiles that was at once mundane and sobering, but yet reeked of truth. Reeked because all too often in technology press events, companies focus on so-called "wow" moments which depict would-be leaps in progress virtually overnight. Such dreams smell sweetly. Embracing the fact that for a traditional auto company to move forward with vastly complex techonlgies that stand up to the scrutiny of regulators across more than 100 countries around the world can smell pretty awful to the tech dreamers and optimists that demand all tech move as fast or faster than mobile. Kia eschewed that approach, instead delivering one of the dryest auto presentations of the season, Kia Motors delved into detail about their upcoming DriveWise system, alongside their plans for automating not only their luxury offerings, but all of their vehicles by 2030.
The Korean automaker's presentation, in lacking nearly all manner of glitz (there was a concept video), delivered hard facts, opting instead to deploy their lead researcher, Dr. Seung Ho Hwang, to lay out their vision for autonomous and connected cars: The Connected Car Trilogy;
The system begins with ADAS, the Advanced Driving Assistance program which focuses on assisting drivers in their current activities rather than fully automating them.
From there the Kia team breaks down the various bits of their trilogy:
With Kia and Hyundai entertaining what some have called a strange relationship, there's no telling how much of these systems are unique to Kia, or re-branded versions of existing Hyundai technologies. What IS clear, is how Kia intends to implement driverless/autonomous vehicles over the next 24 years. If that timeline feels slow, that's because you've no doubt heard about Tesla Motors Autopilot program, which was deployed in late 2015 via an over-the-air update, or Google's driverless vehicle, which is undergoing testing right now and can be found live on the streets of silicon valley.
Still, what was impressive about Kia's conference was the way in which the automaker deliberately laid out a path to action, and did so with the confidence of an automaker several decades its senior. Likewise impressive was the way that Kia's plan focus on delivering what auto experts agree is great value-- autonomous vehicles for everyone that wants them. Whether that idea is novel in 2030 is a different story. Fourteen years is a long time. To illustrate, try and remember what you thought would be impossible back in 2001, when having a standard audio jack in a car was considered a rare pleasure.