This past week the Las Vegas strip held host to the Computer Electronics Show (affectionately known as CES). The weeklong tech fest is famous for its intros of electronic innovations from all over the world. At this year’s show, some of the most impressive debuts sprang from the automotive industry. With the unveiling of truly autonomous cars and ever more amazing add-ons to the connected car, consumer electronics are literally in the fast lane. Consumers are overwhelmingly enjoying this thrill ride; meanwhile some of us car buyers may be just plain overwhelmed. Here’s an overview of CES’ deluge of new tech we car shoppers can all wrap our brains around.
Google’s autonomous car is no longer the only fighter in the ring. Mercedes introduced their newest electric vehicle at CES, the Mercedes-Benz F 015, by having it drive down the Las Vegas strip without a driver. There were people in the car, but instead of staring at the road ahead they were talking with each other thanks to the car’s ability to allow passengers to turn their chairs in order to be face to face.
Besides the new passenger amenities, the car is also able to project a virtual crosswalk in front of it to assist pedestrians that may be crossing in front of it. This would make sure that pedestrians are aware of what the car is able to detect in case a driver is not at the wheel to see them.
Another German powerhouse wanted to get in on the action as well. Audi drove their autonomous A7 from Palo Alto, California all the way to CES in Las Vegas, Nevada, a drive of 542 miles that takes just over 8 hours to complete. The German auto manufacturer debuted their latest work after almost a decade of toiling with autonomous vehicles. They did however say that they hope to start implementing this new technology into their cars within the next 3-5 years. Their biggest issue may be just getting states to sign off on the use of autonomous vehicles, as only four states plus Washington D.C. currently allow them.
Many auto manufacturers are a little more skeptical of changing the driving experience so drastically and have instead opted for a more “pedestrian” (excuse the pun) approach. Several have already brought out technology that allows cars to both self-parallel and -perpendicular park, adjust speed based on traffic flow and even brake in an emergency. On top of these features some manufacturers are attempting to use wearables and phones to better the connected car experience.
Some of the more outlandish include BMW’s latest watch that allows users to summon their car to wherever they are after they have parked it. Another is Hyundai’s Android Wear Watch that connects to it’s Blue Link system to complete tasks such as starting and stopping the engine, locking and unlocking doors and even helping drivers find where they last left their car. (It looks like our post, Not Only Will Your Phone Replace Your Wallet, But Your Car Keys Too may be coming true sooner than we thought.)
The autonomous and connected car are becoming increasingly available and it will only be a matter of time until you will be able to do anything from send emails to catch up on some sleep while driving. If you aren’t completely sold on the idea yet don’t worry, you will still need to have your hands on the wheel for a few more years. But if you can’t wait for this new technology, don’t worry. There’s plany of excitement where that’s coming from. Just wait until you see the even more amazing new gadgets debuting at the Detroit Auto Show next week.