The Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas gives techies a glimpse into the future, but it doesn't get more futuristic than concept cars that are able to drive and park themselves. NY1's Technology reporter Adam Balkin filed the following report.
Watching a car park is nothing special, until you realize the car doesn't have a person behind the wheel. The Audi concept car that can park itself can also pick up a passenger with the hit of a button on a smartphone.
"It's your own personal valet parker. So you can press a button on a smartphone and it can drive up to your front door," says Annie Lien of Audi. "Or let's say you came to a hotel or you're coming to a shopping center, you can press a button on your smartphone and it'll go through a parking structure and actually find its own parking space and park itself."
Audi says it is also currently testing on the streets of Nevada a car that can take over for a driver in stop-and-go traffic. It will keep up with the flow of the traffic, freeing the driver to check emails or even watch a movie.
"We're concentrating on traffic jams on freeways right now so that would be a stop-and-go range from zero to 40 mph," says Bjorn Giesler of Audi.
Lexus also showed off an autonomous concept car at CES that is said to drive itself. Developers prefer to think of all the technologies inside acting more like a co-pilot to make the human driver a better driver.
"Our goal is a system that constantly perceives, processes, and responds to its surroundings, that scans the movement of objects around it, identifies a green light from a red light, and measures the trajectory, roll, pitch and yaw of a vehicle as it steers, accelerates and brakes along the most efficient route to its destination," says Mark Templin of Lexus.
Self-driving vehicles are still a far way from appearing on car lots, but as manufacturers continue to develop these vehicles, some of these technologies will start to trickle down into cars being sold in the next few years.
"We're seeing these filter into high-end cars — already collision warnings, lane departure warnings, that kind of thing. It basically makes cars safer," says James Meigs of Popular Mechanics Magazine.
Developers predict many of these features could easily hit production models within just the next 10 years.