Autonomous driving is all the rage these days, but luxury automakers have generated most of the buzz so far. At CES 2016, though, Kia is showing off an update on what it has in store future of driving, and it's doing so with its Soul EV. The company has already outfitted one of the compact SUVs with its next-gen ADAS (Advanced Driver Assistance Systems) tech, a vehicle that has already been approved for on-road testing by the state of Nevada just last month. Kia is calling this effort Drive Wise, and it's serious about bringing the fully-autonomous systems to market.
Inside this concept version of the Soul EV, six ADAS systems look to fully automate the way we drive. Those technologies include fully-autonomous highway and city driving modes, an Emergency Stop System (ESS), Traffic Jam Assist (TJA) and autonomous valet. Yes, that last bit of tech will automatically park or summon your car for your with a key fab or smartwatch command.
There's also a Preceding Vehicle Following (PVF) system that works in place of the lane recognition tech. In the event that the road you're on doesn't have clear lane markings, PVF takes over. The system monitors the vehicles surrounding and chooses a path based on the speed and direction of the vehicle in front of you. Of course, it does this while maintaining a safe following distance.
Here at CES, Kia is letting attendees see what it's like to drive ride in an autonomous vehicle with a VR simulator. Using an Oculus Rift headset and a Kia Soul cockpit, the company provides a 360-degree simulation of the vehicle's abilities in real-world driving conditions. Kia says the 4D setup allows "riders" to even feel bumps in the road for a realistic feel.
So, when you be able to
drive ride in one of those autonomous Soul EVs? Well, not for a while, I'm afraid. Kia plans to have semi-autonomous vehicles on the market by 2020, with fully-autonomous models to follow a decade after in 2030. When the tech does arrive, Kia expects it to be available across all models, from the luxury sedans all the way down to more affordable economy models.