Kia plans fully driverless cars by 2030

Michael Martinez
The Detroit News

Las Vegas — Kia Motors Corp. on Tuesday said it’s created a sub-brand called Drive Wise for all of its autonomous vehicle research, and plans to put a fully driverless car to the market by 2030.

Autonomous valet parking, activated using a smart key or a smartwatch, lets the vehicle park itself remotely.

The automaker said it would initially invest $2 billion in Drive Wise through 2018. Its intelligent safety technologies include emergency stopping, traffic jam assist and parking assists, and will include features like gesture control, fingerprint sensors and smart-device connectivity.

As it works to further develop the technology, Kia said it would put a partially autonomous vehicle on the market by 2020.

“Kia is undergoing a very promising and gradual process of introducing partially and fully autonomous technologies to its vehicles,” Tae-Won Lim, senior vice president, Central Advanced Research and Engineering Institute of Hyundai Motor Group, said in a statement.

“Although the first marketable fully-autonomous car from Kia will not be available in the immediate future, the work our R&D teams are currently doing to develop our range of Drive Wise technologies is already improving on-road safety and driver assistance. The innovations presented at this year’s show demonstrate the future direction we are taking.”

Kia was recently granted a license to test its Kia Soul EV on public streets in Nevada.

Other automaker executives, including Ford Motor Co. CEO Mark Fields, have said they expect fully driverless cars on the road by 2020.

On Monday, a study by McKinsey said they expect by 2030, 15 percent of global auto sales will be of autonomous cars.

New technology employs radar and camera detection systems to interpret lane markings, allowing the car to drive itself.

The technologies Kia is showcasing at the CES 2016 technology trade show include:

Highway autonomous driving: Employs a combination of radar and camera detection systems to interpret lane markings, allowing the car to stay in its lane or switch into others to overtake other vehicles or follow a different road; all without driver input.

Urban autonomous driving: Uses GPS and sensors to identify the car’s position on the road, allowing it to safely navigate through densely congested city environments while responding to live traffic updates.

Preceding vehicle following: An enhanced lane-keeping system which monitors the vehicle in front and allows the car to calculate its own path relative to it, following at a safe distance if road markings are indecipherable due to poor conditions or road layout.

Emergency stop system: Operates in correlation with Kia’s Driver Status Monitoring system to analyze the driver’s face, ensuring their attention does not stray from the road for too long. If it detects that the driver takes their eyes from the road for too long, ESS can automatically direct the car into an appropriate side lane and come to a halt.

Traffic jam assist: Monitors the vehicle in front during congested traffic conditions, maintaining a safe distance from the vehicle in front and moving into appropriate spaces to gain ground.

Autonomous valet parking: Allows drivers to exit the car and let the vehicle park itself remotely. It’s activated using the smart key or a smartwatch.

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