Kia Going Autonomous

Usually when a company in the auto industry talks about spending $1-billion, that’s fairly big news.

Usually when a company in the auto industry talks about spending $1-billion, that’s fairly big news.

And a company that said it is going to be spending a total of $2-billion by 2018 ought to make twice the news.

But somehow, the fact that Kia announced that it is spending that amount of money to fast-track its autonomous vehicle development seems to have gone unremarked.

Of course, they made the announcement at CES, so perhaps being buried under other announcement can be somewhat understood.

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Kia is calling its autonomous initiative “DRIVE WISE.”

Included in the portfolio that it is developing are highway autonomous driving, which uses a camera and radar for maintaining a lane, and even the ability to pass other vehicles without driver input (one of the concerns even with adaptive cruise control is that a pokey car in front will keep the one behind way behind); urban autonomous driving, which uses GPS and sensors to locate the car on the road and live traffic updates to allow the vehicle to traverse dense city traffic; and autonomous valet parking, which has the driver sending a vehicle on its way using a smart key or smartwatch.

Of the undertaking, Tae-Won Lim, senior vice president, Central Advanced Research and Engineering Institute of Hyundai Motor Group, of which Kia is a part, 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.”

But here’s a notable thing.

Kia plans to have its first partially automated DRIVE WISE car available in 2020.

And more remarkable, fully autonomous cars on the market within 15 years.

Hard to overlook that.