Kia Dives into the Deep End of the Autonomous Mobility Pool
Pools are ubiquitous in Las Vegas, where the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is held, and during the first week of 2016, Kia dove headfirst into the one labeled “autonomous mobility” by announcing a new sub-brand called DRIVE WISE. Because capital letters are for acronyms, like CES, we’ll refer to this new initiative as Drive Wise.
Drive Wise will encompass the automaker’s future efforts associated with advanced driver-assistance and autonomous-driving technologies. Kia expects to offer partial-autonomous vehicles by 2020, followed by fully autonomous vehicles in 2030. The company’s partial-autonomous technologies were on display at the 2016 CES, and Kia emphasizes that a driver can always circumvent any of them, taking direct control of the vehicle at any time:
- Highway Autonomous Driving uses cameras and radar to read pavement lane markings, is designed to switch to open lanes to overtake slower vehicles, and can follow different roads based on the identified destination, all without driver input.
- Urban Autonomous Driving employs GPS, sensors, and live traffic updates to navigate dense urban driving environments.
- Preceding Vehicle Following is an enhanced lane-keeping assist system that follows the vehicle ahead in situations when road markings are indecipherable or the road layout is poor. In other words, it depends on a human being in a different vehicle to lead the way. No word on what happens if the leading vehicle is just as confused as the Kia is.
- An Emergency Stop System uses Driver Status Monitoring technology to continuously evaluate a driver’s face. If it detects that the driver is looking away from the road for too long, it automatically puts the car into “an appropriate side lane” and comes to a halt. Consider this a technological rap on the knuckles.
- Traffic Jam Assist automatically follows the vehicle ahead when traveling in congested traffic. Unlike similar systems that are already available today, Kia’s take on the technology moves the car into open, adjacent spaces in traffic in order to gain ground.
- Using Autonomous Valet Parking, owners can command the vehicle to park itself.
For beyond 2020, Kia’s Drive Wise initiative is working on gesture control technology, fingerprint or smart watch sensing that sets vehicle programming to specific people, and networking cars as a part of the Internet of Things.
Kia has also been granted a license from the state of Nevada to use a Soul EV autonomous vehicle for testing on public roads as it develops “Vehicle to Everything” (V2X) technology. Using sensors, radar, LiDAR, cameras, vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V), and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) systems that “allow the car to recognize, judge, and control every driving scenario, obstacle, or potential threat,” this collective V2X initiative is expected to produce Kia’s first fully autonomous vehicle by 2030.