For the first time this year, DVN attended CES. With an estimated 200,000 attendees—all involved in some manner with the consumer electronics industry; the show's closed to the general public—it's the largest of the many trade shows held every year in the sprawling exhibition centres amidst the garish gambler's paradise that is the Las Vegas strip. The name of the show has grown a little misleading in recent years; it sounds like it would be dedicated to video and audio equipment and computer gear, and certainly there's lots of that. But as the electronics world and the automotive world merge and converge at an accelerating pace, and the auto industry's Silicon Valley diaspora grows big and strong, automotive technology has come to be a substantial, important chunk of CES.
This year's roster of automaker attendees included Nissan, Ford, Mercedes-Benz, Honda, Hyundai-Kia, Jeep, and Chinese EV startup Byton chose CES 2018 to show their first concept car for the first time. It (and they) appear to have Tesla in their very clear sights. Audi were conspicuously absent—a puzzlement, given their vanguard position in the car tech race and "Vorsprung durch Technik" (progress via technology) motto. Ford's CES presence was enormous, with just one of their several exhibits covering an area the size of at least three of the largest standard-size expo spaces. In that jumbo showcase, Ford presented their foreview of future mobility centred round the notion of streets rather than roads. "Streets", Ford elucidated, "are for living. Roads are for driving." The main idea is that the streets in the smart cities of tomorrow ought to cater to all comers—whether on foot, on four wheels, on two wheels (or, we suppose, on one wheel)—and not just to motor vehicles. When advanced automobiles make it safer and easier for pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorists to commingle in shared space, there'll be less need for traditional hard barriers dividing the space into "car" and "other" zones. This will pave the way (er, open the door) for a greatly expanded mix of uses for the streetscape.