Out in Las Vegas this week, plenty of automakers are using the Consumer Electronics Show to tout techy innovations and plug autonomous driving developments. But advocacy group Consumer Watchdog is trying to crash the party. The organization is seeking to brand the cars as "robots," saying in a statement today that "consumers and regulators should not be fooled by the autonomous vehicle hype coming out of the Consumer Electronics Show." "Robot car advocates are putting a glitzy spin on their 'autonomous' technologies," John Simpson, Consumer Watchdog's privacy project director, said in a statement. "The fact is that while some emerging technologies may promote safety, self-driving robot cars are not remotely ready for deployment on public highways without a steering wheel and pedals so a human driver can intervene when necessary."
Automakers are, of course, using friendlier-sounding names to describe their self-driving technology. Kia, for instance, used CES this week to launch a new sub-brand called "Drive Wise" that includes its partially-autonomous driving technologies, as well as fully-autonomous driving cars that it wants to introduce by 2030. In a statement, the automaker played up the safety aspects of the technology. Technology being displayed at CES includes "urban autonomous driving" that "applies 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." In Kia's statement, Tae-Won Lim, senior VP-central advanced research and engineering institute of Hyundai Motor Group, said: "Kia is undergoing a very promising and gradual process of introducing partially and fully autonomous technologies to its vehicles. 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." Kia released this promotional video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w6fX2fCK264&feature=youtu.be