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Transportation

The ‘Driverless Experience’ Looks Awfully Distracting

At CES 2019, carmakers showed off vehicles with perfume-puffing headrests, augmented-reality video displays, and all manner of in-car entertainment.
Attendees try out a cabin equipped with Kia R.E.A.D., a system for the cabin of an autonomous vehicle that can read the emotions of the passengers, during the 2019 CES in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Attendees try out a cabin equipped with Kia R.E.A.D., a system for the cabin of an autonomous vehicle that can read the emotions of the passengers, during the 2019 CES in Las Vegas, Nevada.Steve Marcus/Reuters

At the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week, it looks like the Year of the Self-Driving Car. More than 30,000 square feet of floor space at this annual technology exhibition are covered with technology pointing to an autonomous future: super high-definition maps, LIDAR cameras, and dazzling new vehicles designed to cosset, amuse, and sell stuff to the people inside them.

Indeed, many of the gadgets and ideas on display have less to do with vehicles’ abilities to fully drive themselves—which remains very much a work-in-progress—and more to do with what people will do when they don’t have to drive.