Following the raft of tech innovations for the motor industry unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show in las Vegas at the start of 2015, we’ve picked out the projects we think you have the biggest chance of seeing in some form by the year’s end.
If you’ve just passed your driving test and are looking to buy a new car right now, the following might be just beyond your reach. But the technology they’re about to usher in could be widespread with the next 12 months, so it’s definitely worth keeping your finger on the pulse.
1 The self-driving Audi A7
While Google has experimented with its own version of the driverless car, German car giant Audi has been quietly getting a new, autonomous version of its A7 ready. So close is to being ready to roll off the production line, a concept vehicle carrying Audi staff drove 550-plus miles from San Francisco to Las Vegas problem-free.
Much of the technology used is more than mere concept, however. Sensors normally used for adaptive cruise control have been tweaked to detect a wider field of view, while a laser scanner and a cluster of cameras – including a 3D version – projects what the car sees onto an interior screen.
The data is then fed into throttle, brake and steering controls which make for smooth driving on motorways. More challenging country roads need human input, however.
2 Hyundai’s Head-Up Display
Audi wasn’t the only motoring marque to get in on the self-driving bandwagon this year. It’s system monitors the driver and, should he or she suddenly become incapacitated, brings the vehicle to a safe halt and then contacts the emergency services.
The Head-Up Display, meanwhile, beams live information – speed limits, directions, even traffic light sequences – into the driver’s field of vision, letting them concentrate on the road.
3 Drive from NVIDIA
Another computing giant inching further into motoring territory was NVIDIA. Its Drive concept involves taking live info from 12 HD cameras and using it to make functions such as self-parking and limited self-driving incredibly accurate. It could also help drivers navigate very tight spaces with ease.
4 Volkswagen Golf R Touch displays
You wonder why the idea of smartphone-style touch displays aren’t widespread already. Keen to make waves before the rest of the industry cottons on, VW is turning the dashboard of its Golf into a giant touch- and gesture-based screen. There’ll be three touchscreens governing audio entertainment, information streams and even interior lighting.
Partnerships VW and both Google’s Android Auto and Apple’s CarPlay touchscreen tech suggests full integration with mobile devices in the coming months.
5 BMW’s touchy-feely key fob
The perfect match to BMW’s super-smart i8, this futuristic key fob features a tiny, 2.2-inch touchscreen. On it you can scroll though menus of information from your car wherever you are. Presumably it’ll phone you when it’s fallen down the back of the sofa, too.