Nearly 200,000 people and 4,500 companies from around the world converged on Las Vegas for the annual geek-fest known as CES, the world’s biggest innovation showcase. As in recent past years, the auto industry was well represented at the electronics expo which ended Jan 10th.
As cars grow more and more technologically sophisticated, CES is an increasingly attractive venue for automakers, suppliers, and technology-related startups to show their stuff. CES has a favorable environment for exhibitors and attendees alike: good weather, extensive roads, scenic deserts not far from town, and the shows, glitz, and gambling the city is famous (or infamous!) for.
In many aspects, CES set the tone for a year in the industry. Last year, as we reported, it was focused on autonomous driving interiors, showing how saved time could be used. This year, it was a bit more back to reality with technologies and techniques plausible in the shorter and mid term. Not a world of autonomous vehicles all around, but a world integrating a lot of driving assistance technologies. It’s more showing a road map to a long-term self-driving world, where the next steps are real driving conveniences, safety systems, driver monitoring, augmented reality, and that sort of thing. Less emphasis on robo-taxis, more emphasis on progressive automation in cars to make them easier, safer and more fun to drive.
Convergent projections of a significant world auto market decrease kind of oblige automakers to limit their investment in advanced driving assistance technologies. At the same time, the level of automotive complexity has increased as we’ve come to better understand what autonomous vehicles are really all about. The car of the foreseeable future, before it gets to Level 4, will have more electronics than anything else in it. CES is not an auto show, it’s a mobility show, as it combines all new technology with new service-oriented business models.
Still, it wouldn’t be CES (or Las Vegas) without hype—Hyundai’s flying taxis, for example, making the link between cars and mobility services, where automakers would like to be progressively considered as mobility service providers.