Kia Reimagines The Future With Self-Driving Cars We Actually Want

SEMA 2016

For once, we can actually look forward to a future filled with autonomous cars.

It’s probably not a coincidence that Halloween and the SEMA (Specialty Equipment Manufacturers Association) show are held so close to each other because for many automakers it’s a chance to dress their cars up in the most outlandish costumes complete with extra horsepower, crazy modifications, and graphics that would snap necks in traffic. Essentially, it’s a show that allows automakers to put on their craziest costumes. Kia decided to imagine how four of its models would look like in a future filled with autonomous cars.

As we recently confirmed when speaking to Henrik Fisker about his autonomous EMotion, losing the need for a driver changes everything about a car’s design including opening up space where the steering wheel once was, enabling for the front seats to face the rear, and adding the need for more sophisticated in-car entertainment systems for longer drives. To incorporate these changes, as well as the wild imaginations of some of its more wild designers, Kia brought modified versions of the Niro, Sedona, Sorento, and Soul to Las Vegas. The Niro, dubbed the Triathlon for SEMA, is envisioned as an autonomous vehicle for the traveling athlete. Think of the cyclist or surfer that needs to travel long distance for a competition.

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The interior of the Niro is optimized to keep a tired athlete relaxed while removing the roof from the D pillars allows for a small truck-like bed to haul athletic equipment. For cyclists, the Niro has laser projectors that illuminate a makeshift bike lane onto the road so that the driverless car can follow behind and act as a blocking car for safety. Of course, some athletes prefer winter sports, there’s even an entire different set of Olympics for this breed. To accommodate them, Kia built a self-driving snow sled out of a Sorento. Rubber tracks replace the wheels for snow conditions and a roof rack will carry skis for the whole group. Even the B pillars have been removed to convert the doors into suicide doors, making storage of snow gear easy.

For the traveling musician, Kia outfitted a Sedona minivan as a mobile recording studio and tour bus so that artists can record, chill out, and do whatever rock stars do on their tour busses while traveling between shows. Of course all of the driving is handled by the computers so that artists can attend post-show parties without worrying if they’ll be able to drive to the next town in non-sober conditions. Urban dwellers with executive jobs will be happy to hear that Kia also modified a Soul to shuttle them between meetings in style. Rear-facing front seats allow for in-car meetings to take place while a 40-inch screen hooked up to a Mac mini facilitates connection.

The interior has also been revamped with enough luxury features to replace limousines in case Wall Street executives feel like trading up their traditional rides. Well done Kia, for once we actually see some driverless cars we wouldn’t mind owning. And in case you're wondering, Kia already has serious plans for this.

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