LAS VEGAS — Yep, there was lots of talk and several demonstrations of self-driving cars at CES, but it was striking to notice which companies did not attend this massive consumer electronics extravaganza.
Waymo, considered by many to be the leader in self-driving technology, didn't have an exhibit. And General Motors waited until CES was over to drop the really big news of the week — that it is launching a public ride-hailing fleet full of cars without steering wheels and pedals in 2019.
At CES, Aptiv teamed with Lyft to offer self-driving rides for the general public to select locations around Las Vegas. But the variety of approaches to garnering attention suggests the industry has reached a key interval in the headlong rush to autonomous vehicles. Many companies are too hard at work to hold flashy media events, and others are still trying to prove their ideas have merit before investing millions in r&d.
"It's time to get the engineering done," said Kay Stepper, vice president of driver assistance and automated driving at Robert Bosch.
Indeed, some companies at CES said they were more focused on working on the tech behind the scenes than producing splashy, headline-grabbing events.
To some, product and development timeline promises are meaningless until there's a car on the road.
"There's a lot of statements, a lot of declarations; there's often a lot of delays," said Carlos Ghosn, chairman of the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance. "The only way to measure how advanced we are is to measure how many troops you have on the ground."