Major Car manufacturers flock to CES in big numbers, bringing automobiles of the future in tow.
The humble motor car has undergone a rennaisance of late, no longer are the car companies offering meagre upgrades such as more cup holders (although there are never enough). This year at CES in Las Vegas most of the world's largest car manufacturers have come to show off their connected or smart cars.
Once the realm of science fiction but rapidly becoming a probable feature, the self driving is the headline grabbing feature that is coming as soon as local laws will allow. In order to show off their technology, Audi let a journalist be a passenger in a self-drive A7 as it made it's way from Silicon Valley, California, to the CES Show in Las Vegas. A road trip of some 550 miles that completed successfully.
Audi has declared the technology as "Production Ready" after the car arrived at the trade show. Of course, it was only possible because both California and Nevada allow the use of self-drive vehicles.
Audi were not the only ones at the show to boast their technological chops. BMW joined Samsung on stage to talk about it's tech for the not too distant future - updates to the iDrive to use a Samsung tablet to allow passengers to update to climate controls, radio, adjusting seats and so on.
Another German manufacturer, Volkswagen, are also at CES to show off their 'next-gen' technology. Their Golf R Touch concept car that pushes the envelope of what we understand of Dashboard technology with large touch screen control screens that allow drivers and passengers to modify almost all environment settings to their liking - even allowing for themese and colours to be changed to match the drivers particular mood or preferences.
Volkswagen will also use Apple CarPlay and and Android Auto under the App-Connect label to intelligently pair up with your smartphone of choice.
Several cameras mounted in the car can also allow for commands to be triggered by hand gestures. While this may sound like a novel idea, I am sure that it in the wrong hands it could be the instigator for many road rage incidents.
While BMW and Volkswagen's announcements are not quite on par with a car driving itself over half a thousand miles, agreed, but Volkswagen say that some primitive versions of their technology on show is already available in their production cars. Features such as proximity tracking for assisted parking are becoming more commonplace on todays cars.
It is interesting to see what will be happening in the automotive industry as it continues to progress away from the old Internal Combustion engine and towards Electric or Hydrogen powered cars.
Toyota, the owner of almost 6,000 patents relating to Hyrdogen-powered cars has announced at the show that it will freely share these patents. Bob Carter, Senior VP of Automotive Operations at Toyota said, "When good ideas are shared, great things can happen", adding that he expects the move to take about five years to show it's fruits in the mainstream.
This move from Toyota mirrors a similar decision by electronic car pioneer Tesla in 2014 to open up it's patent portfolio in the interest of advancing the market.
The fact that there are more than 10 car manufacturers attending an Consumer Electronics trade show is proof that the car is shaping up to be the next must-have gadget.