It’s become abundantly clear that autonomous cars are the future of transportation. Companies from the tech world like Tesla, Alphabet, Apple, and Uber, as well as traditional automakers like Mercedes and Ford, are all in a race to develop and perfect self-driving technology. So it was only a matter of time before stragglers like Kia Motors began their own autonomous vehicle programs. With a target date of 2030 for the release of their technology, however, it seems like Kia is going to be late to the party.
At CES 2016, South Korea’s Kia Motors unveiled its new “sub-brand” entitled “DRIVE WISE.” According to the press release, “DRIVE WISE embodies Kia’s philosophy to realize intelligently safe vehicles featuring Kia’s latest and forthcoming ADAS [Advanced Driver Assistance Systems] technologies.” The sentiment is nice — self-driving cars are likely to make driving much safer and less frustrating — but Kia’s targets for delivery appear to be seriously lacking compared to the competition.
Kia says it wants to have “partially” autonomous vehicles on the road by 2020 with features like self-parking and automatic lane switching on the freeway. But Tesla already has those systems fully deployed with its “autopilot” feature, advancing at a good clip thanks to real-time learning that takes place across the entire fleet of vehicles. This means that Kia’s tech won’t only be late, it will be underdeveloped in comparison.
The 2030 target date for Kia’s fully autonomous vehicle is especially difficult to comprehend considering Alphabet already has vehicles that are so good at driving themselves they don’t even have steering wheels. This essentially amounts to a 14-year head start for the Silicon Valley goliath, which seems pretty damn excellent at developing technology faster than its rivals.
Kia shouldn’t be counted out just yet however, as they have a reasonable amount of resources (about $46 billion in annual revenue) and the help of parent company Hyundai, which is likely to do everything in its power to make sure its subsidiary stays competitive. Regardless, it’s good to see the self-driving car race heat up even further, because chances are fully autonomous vehicles are going to change our lives.
What do you think about Kia Motors and its comparatively slow timeframe? Is Kia likely to be wiped out by faster moving tech companies, or will taking its time pay off in the long run? Let us know in the comments section below!
Image: Kia Motors