Look ma, no hands required. A modified Audi A7 drives on its own.

Look ma, no hands required. A modified Audi A7 drives on its own.

The International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas used to be all about…consumer technology. From sleek new 4K TVs to next-generation connected home devices to wearable fitness trackers, most analysts and journalists appeared to ignore the automotive side of the show, until now.

This year, several keynotes were delivered by auto industry bigwigs as they flaunted the latest features their cars will ship with next year, or next decade.

From better connectivity to cars that drive themselves, CES is now one of the biggest shows to show what’s next for the auto industry.

Volkswagen at CES: Golf R Touch virtual dashboard

Volkswagen, for example, showed off the Golf R Touch. Its dashboard is comprised of several touchscreens. There’s no traditional tachometer or speedo, just a display you can customize to show exactly that.

Although the dash can be controlled with touch, controls can also be managed with motion from the driver or other occupants.

No longer will drivers be distracted by searching for the rear defroster button, buried at the bottom of their dash centre stack. It’ll be just a matter of waving your hand over a certain part of the cabin, with a twist of the finger to control the intensity of the heat.

Audi shows off self-driving cars


Last year, Audi unveiled a self-driving car which contained a computer that was significantly smaller than the self-driving A7 they brought to CES in 2013. This year, the Germans sent their cars driving around Vegas on their own.

According to Wired, the experience was ‘delightfully dull.’  But if you’d rather let the car do all the work while you work…on your iPhone, for example, is what the future is about.

The A7, Jack, is controlled by a computer that’s relying on six radars, three cameras and two light-detecting and ranging units.

Wired reports that this car could be in showrooms in five to seven years.

The other major benefit to self-driving cars is improved safety. Computers are less likely to fall asleep behind the wheel, or go the wrong way after a few drinks. They’re also less likely to lose control on slippery roads.

But self-driving cars are automated by computers. And the whole legal system isn’t ready to let a series of zeroes and ones take complete control behind the wheel.

Audi also showed a watch that lets drivers start the engine, control the temperature and adjust other comfort settings as well.