LAS VEGAS — It’s not gadgets that are making the news here at CES 2016, but cars.
For example, at a press event this afternoon the Korean car giant Kia said all of its cars will be fully autonomous by 2030. Not just its high-end vehicles — all the cars it makes. And that’s just 14 years away.
That means you be able to curl up in the back and sleep while the robot drives — or not be in the car at all. It’ll drive itself to the airport to pick you up.
Kia is joined by dozens of other companies with futuristic visions of the car. Both Detroit and Silicon Valley are here at CES 2016 to talk up future cars, which are mostly electric and autonomous. It includes Ford, VW, Toyota and lots of others.
It’s all good news for Apple, which is widely believed to be working on its own car.
What’s clear from the flurry of announcements here at CES is that the entire auto industry is gearing up for a major electronics revolution, both in the drive train and vehicles’ smarts.
Apple will benefit from this shift in a couple of ways. It will have to have to source most of its car from auto suppliers, just as it does with its current electronics products, leaving it to concentrate on design, software, and marketing. And the car of the future will likely be defined as much by software as hardware, and the integration of the two; another area that Apple excels in.
At the press event, Kia showed a quick video clip of an autonomous concept car parking itself on command from an Apple Watch. The car appears to be here at CES. We’ll get our own video later this week if possible.
According to Kia, all of the cars it makes will be fully autonomous by 2030. Currently, many of Kia’s higher-end vehicles are equipped with a lot of smart driver assist technology, which will evolve rapidly in the coming decade to make driving a thing of the past.
There are Legal and government policy issues remain, and computer controls haven’t quite been perfected. Still, Shashua and others say it’s reasonable to expect cars to take over more driving tasks from humans on the way to full automation in about five years.
In addition to autonomous driving, automakers are also building more electric cars. Three automakers are announcing new EVs at the show: battery-powered Microbus from Volkswagen; General Motors’ long-range Bolt; and Faraday Future’s crazy-looking Batmobile.