The fact that cars are a huge part of CES every year isn’t news. As PC vendors move off the show floor, auto makers move in. In many cases, the vehicles are concepts that won’t reach your local showrooms, but they are a perfect indication of what is technologically possible.
In the last five years, self-driving cars went from science fiction to reality. Major auto makers are testing autonomous vehicles on public roads, as are Google, Tesla and Uber. If you haven’t seen them yet, it might be because the LiDAR sensors that used to sit awkwardly atop these vehicles are now tiny, unassuming boxes. CES vendors are preparing for a future dominated by autonomous vehicles. The only question is how consumers and regulators will adapt.
The biggest splash at the show was undoubtedly the Faraday Future FF91. A year ago, the company announced plans to build the self-driving car of the future, a high-performance and fully autonomous Tesla rival. This year, it demoed a working model. To be clear, the demo was under very controlled conditions and the car is nowhere near ready for commercial release. Even so, it seems clear that the future of transportation will look something like the FF91.
Or at least, that is the ultimate goal. In the short-term, autonomous vehicles may not be as flashy. Mercedes and Ford both showed off commercial vehicle formats that could shuffle employees or goods around a corporate campus. The idea is that autonomous vehicles will be too costly for consumers at first, but will be perfect for businesses or even municipalities. A bus route will be a lot easier to map than the open road. Sexy cars or not, the transportation industry is set for a major transformation. Here are the vehicles in the vanguard.