On the Trail of Autonomous Cars at CES 2017
NEWS ANALYSIS: Promising autonomous vehicle technology was everywhere you looked at CES 2017 in Las Vegas, but sorting out which promises might actually be fulfilled took some exploring.LAS VEGAS—I peered around the passenger seat in front of me as the Kia SUV I was riding in sped across the worn parking lot towards a Chrysler minivan with its hatch open. Inside the van was a traffic light shining Red. Then on a tablet mounted to the dash numbers started counting down. As the count reached 0, the traffic flashed green. The tablet mounted in the car also showed a green light. The count-down came from a traffic signal controller attached to the traffic light and it was letting us know that it would turn green before we reached the simulated intersection ahead. We tried it again and this time we were greeted with a raucous alarm as we blew through the red light. Obviously, the traffic light sensing hardware and software in the SUV was working as well as the autonomous vehicle control systems that Savari installed in the rental car were working.
But Savari wasn’t done with us yet. The car we were riding in was equipped with vehicle to vehicle communications. So after we’d finished running some red lights, we tested the ability of the onboard sensors and the communications to keep us away from other cars and from pedestrians.