As the hype intensifies around self-driving cars, traditional automakers and their suppliers jockey with high-tech upstarts to claim their technology is better or coming sooner. It’s a race no one company can win, which makes the competition all the more interesting.
At CES, we expect to look both ways before crossing the streets around the convention center, if only so we can spot one of the many self-driving prototypes that will be tooling around to prove their viability. Now that Honda’s partnering with Waymo (the Alphabet company formerly known as Google X’s self-driving car project), we expect to hear about similar collaborations among other big players.
The question on everyone’s mind remains, when is this all really going to happen? The oft-cited “2020 or 2021” still hangs out there, far enough into the future to make speculation pointless.
What we do know is that the technologies needed to replace (and improve upon) a human driver include a broad array of sensors and cameras, incredibly sophisticated mapping technology, and computers that can learn on the fly. None of this is cheap, making the affordability of self-driving cars another big question. Whatever we see from any vendor at CES will just be parts of a puzzle they’re all still figuring out.—Melissa Riofrio