CES is the world’s grandest stage for all sorts of electronics, and this year in Las Vegas, there was again no shortage of innovative smartphones, smart home terminals and other gadgets and gizmos. But it’s autonomous cars that continue to dominate our conversations on digital expansion and its wide-reaching implications, and the four-day trade show was proof of this, as it was awash with auto tech.
This year, you can argue that CES surpassed even the Frankfurt and Detroit Auto Shows as the most important automobile expo on earth. That’s because autonomous driving is about a lot more than getting you out of the driver’s seat and away from the steering wheel. The transformation of mobility is going to have a gigantic impact on both suburban and urban areas, thrusting new companies into the spotlight and relegating many traditional technologies to the realm of the obsolete.
Cars, once great feats of mechanics, have now evolved into great feats of electronics. And their future is fully automated: Cars now have the capability of parallel parking on their own, seeing and heeding oncoming traffic, predicting merge time and gauging accurate speed. They can sense light and darkness and adjust their high beams accordingly. They can turn themselves on without the need for an ignition key. As if fulfilling some futuristic fantasy, cars have become fully equipped mobile entertainment, navigation and communication systems on wheels.
The next and final step in this coup d’etat of automobile automation — cars that no longer need a human to steer or push the pedal to the metal — is near. So I wasn’t surprised to see that the automotive component of CES 2018 revolved around two central themes: 1) conversion of the automobile industry to a new spin of manual versus automatic and 2) the thrilling, game-changing disruption that we can anticipate when it comes to these new autonomous cars.
Now that CES has wrapped, there are a number of critical questions we should ask ourselves if we want to be prepared for this seismic shift. For those of us who work in the auto industry and understand the immense, omnipotent role that transport plays in the day-to-day life of every American, here is what we need to consider.