There will be more auto-tech exhibitors at this year's CES than ever before.
To many, self-driving cars seem like a pipedream that should be left in science fiction movies. 2017 marks a significant step in making that dream a reality, however, with fully autonomous cars set to go into production and tested on public roads thanks to new legislation. And that's just half the battle - with safety concerns and a lack of public interest, automakers may face an uphill struggle to sell autonomous vehicles. This year's CES show could convince naysayers, however, according to a report by Bloomberg.
In 2015, car electronics supplier Delphi Automotive traveled coast to coast in a self-driving Audi Q5 signalling the arrival of the autonomous automobile. Now, Delphi is focusing on convincing the public that autonomous cars are viable by giving test rides to potential customers at the Las Vegas show this week using a driverless Audi, which will be tackling a course of rugged terrain and tunnels. "The last two years at CES have been more about just showcasing the technology and saying, 'Look what it can do,' " said Glen De Vos, Delphi's vice president of advanced engineering. "This year, the discussion is all about the path to production."
This could be a critical selling tool for consumers, automakers, ride-hailing companies and transit services, at a point where autonomous technology is rapidly evolving. "We're close to bringing this to a lot of people," John Krafcik, the former auto executive who now runs Waymo, said at the time of its formation. "We're kind of at an inflection point." Google's self-driving technology, now in development under the name of Waymo, is currently being fitted to a fleet of Chrysler Pacifica minivans. Honda has also shown potential interest in adopting the technology.
There have been setbacks, though - taxi company Uber had to swiftly take its self-driving Volvos off the road when one jumped a red light and it was later found out it didn't seek any permits, which probably hasn't helped the public's perception of the technology's potential. Then again, autonomous technology saved dozens of lives in the recent Berlin attack. Seeing the safety potential, this technology could become mandatory in Europe in the future. 2017 marks a turning point for CES, with an increased focus on showcasing automotive technology – the exhibit now spans the size of four football fields. 138 auto-tech exhibitors will be attending the show.