Does Kia’s View of the Future Correspond With What You Want From Self-Driving Cars?
Mood-reading robots and electric four-wheeled cycles are just a few highlights from the Kia booth at CESby Jonathan Lopez, on
The 2019 Consumer Electronics Show has now officially reached full chat, and many of the major automakers are there to show off their latest and greatest gadgets and concepts. Kia is among them, arriving in Vegas to debut its vision for an autonomous, intelligent, highly connected transportation system that can understand your moods and adapt itself accordingly.
The Car Is Your Friend
While some automakers are busy debuting cars, Kia is in Vegas with an interactive exhibit that shows the South Korean automaker’s vision for an autonomous, electrified future.
The new technology concepts are making the rounds in something Kia is calling the “Space of Emotive Driving” exhibit.
It’s also worth mentioning that Kia actually collaborated with MIT to develop some of this technology, so it’s not just some good ideas dreamed up by a team of marketing people - these concepts might actually have some legs in the real world.
The most obvious (and relevant) features are the autonomous drive systems, but Kia is also debuting a few ideas that should keep the passengers occupied while the robotic chauffeur takes care of the driving. The idea is that while you are taken to your intended destination, you’ll have the opportunity to gesture your way to educational media, entertainment, relaxation, and productivity. It’s something Kia calls R.E.A.D., describing it as a vast technology suite, designed for the “post-autonomous driving era.”
Here’s how Kia puts it - “R.E.A.D. System is the automotive industry’s first technology converging human senses-oriented in-cabin environment control and AI-based emotional intelligence.”
R.E.A.D. stands for Real-time Emotion Adaptive Driving. Rather than your basic AI assistant, R.E.A.D. can read actually your emotions and adjust its settings to suit your needs.
This is accomplished using an array of sensors that monitor various parameters, such as facial expression, heart rate, and electrodermal activity (basically sweat levels). Deep learning then takes a baseline reading for the individual passenger and adjusts itself moving forward to better suit that individual.
“The system enables continuous communication between driver and vehicle through the unspoken language of ‘feeling,’ thereby providing an optimal, human-sense oriented space for the driver in real-time,” said Albert Biermann, President and Head of Research & Development Division of Hyundai Motor Group.
R.E.A.D. can also make personalized route choice suggestions based on the driver’s mood, and even adjust the in-cabin fragrance to match your mood - whatever that might entail.
While it might sound creepy to have some unblinking virtual eye monitoring your moods, it could be helpful to have a system that knows your preferences without any inputs from the user.
Speaking of inputs, Kia is also debuting something called V-Touch, a new virtual-touch gesture control technology concept that uses a visual camera to record the movements of the passengers’ eyes and fingertips. It’s a bit like the freestanding digital interface that Tom Cruise uses in the film Minority Report.
Through this system, the user can operate various features, with visual feedback fed through the onboard heads-up display. Users can adjust the HVAC system, interface with the infotainment system, play games, search the Internet, and adjust the cabin lighting.
The Kia booth will also showcase a four-person “workspace” that simulates attendees taking the role of a “Kia executive” getting ready for a business trip. As such, attendees use the V-Touch gesture control system to do stuff like open emails and manage their busy schedule. The simulation also includes a live video conference using the heads-up display.
Another neat feature is the music-response system, which sends vibrations through the seats that sync up the song playing through the infotainment system. Alternatively, the seats can be set with a massage system, or sync up with the driver assist system for haptic feedback.
Finally, Kia is debuting something it’s calling the “SEED” car, which is offered as a “potential solution for urban micro-mobility.”
This vehicle is essentially a four-wheel electric “cycle,” which comes with a range of 100 km (62 mph).
The SEED is motivated by a pedal-electric hybrid system, wherein the rider must still pedal, but the job is made easier thanks to copious electric assistance as well.
The SEED is designed for the urban landscape and making the “final mile” of a journey, and is transported inside the “BIRD Car,” which is an autonomous shuttle to get the SEED car within 62 miles of the intended destination.
Is This Really Where We’re Headed?
That remains to be seen, but there’s plenty of interesting ideas to pick through here.
The autonomous drive systems are really what underpin the whole thing, and from there, the AI-driven interactions Kia has outlined can actually take shape.
In truth, the technology to make these things a possibility is definitely close, but it’s still gonna take some massaging to get it into the hands of everyday folks.
The SEED and BIRD car concepts look like the least likely possibilities in the mix here. It’s an interesting idea, especially for those individuals that find it hard to park close to home or work on a regular basis, but in terms of making it a reality - we’re not convinced.
What do you think about Kia’s CES concepts? Let us know in the comments section below
Read our full review on the 2019 Hyundai Elevate Concept