In the midst of the madness, with emerging tech like wearables, flexible phones & TVs and 3D printing dominating the headlines, a surprise industry is making it’s mark on CES: big auto. Automakers are alive and well and showing off what tricks they have up their sleeves for the year ahead.

We’re half way through CES 2015 and we are finally starting to familiarize ourselves with the hottest new tech and trends that are going to define this year’s show and the year ahead.

CES mainstays like TVs and computers will always dominate headlines and trending topics on Twitter, but we are seeing some growth in new areas. Within the last few years, 3D printing and wearable devices have began to slowly overtake the more traditional tech items that captivate CES attendees.

This year’s CES, however, can easily be mistaken for a high-end international auto-show (even if you weren’t out all night with your new CES friends). Nearly all of the major American automakers, and a bevy of international automakers, are on hand at CES to show off their most exciting new technology, some of which is very futuristic (remember the cars from Total Recall?), and some of which may reach consumers (end users for the tech nerds) by year’s end.

Check out some of the coolest automotive tech that has been making the rounds at CES:

Driverless Cars

Without a doubt, the hottest automotive topic at CES 2015 is the allure of driverless cars. BMW’s vision for the future is a car that will drive itsself and find it’s own parking space, controllable by their companion smart watch. Hyundai and Audi have similar concepts. Audi’s self driving vehicle drove itself from Silicon Valley to Las Vegas for the show.

We may be many years from getting rides from these ‘lounges on wheels,’ the technology that is being developed to achieve driverless vehicles is groundbreaking in its own right. Volvo, which is already known as being the benchmark of auto safety, has some really exciting stuff in store, which will keep drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists safe.

Imagine your car braking to avoid a collision, even if you’re still hitting the gas? That’s what the legendary Swedish automaker has in the pipeline.

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Smart, Connected Cars

We have smartphones, smart watches, smart homes, and the natural progression is smart cars (no not those smart cars). Connected cars are a major trend this year at CES, and some cool tech has been unveiled. Nvidia, known for high-end graphics cards and computer gear, has created a chip, called Nvidiadrive, which will enable a car to park itself.

Toyota, the largest car manufacturer on the planet, used its own keynote event to pull an Elon Musk (Tesla), and release nearly 6,000 fuel cell patents with the hopes of dramatically increasing development of the use of hydrogen fuel cells in vehicles. These patents will be available for scientists and automakers to use royalty free.

Not to be outdone, Ford unveiled a lot of cool, new tech, but perhaps their most readily useful development was the announcement of a number of experimental apps to help drivers find parking spaces in crowded cities. Ford has high hopes for the Ford Smart Mobility apps.

Gadgets Galore

The prospect of sitting back and relaxing while the car does the driving is certainly alluring, but we are still a few years away from that. Until then, luxury automakers have dreamed up some seriously cool gadgets to complement their vehicles.

Audi is working with Nvidia to usher in a new era of infotainment to their top of the line vehicles. The Audi Q6 SUV, which you can catch at next week’s Detroit Auto Show, will be the first to come equipped with the Audio tablet, which will complement the vehicle’s existing navigation system and can also be used outside of the vehicle.

BMW’s groundbreaking iDrive interface is getting some new controls: touchless. BMW is integrating gesture controls, a relatively new technology that takes hand gestures as control input, into their vehicles. The system has a dedicated 3D sensor that will be able to distinguish whether the driver is pointing with one or two fingers, and which way they are pointing.

We’re seeing some unprecedented moves by some of the largest automakers at this year’s CES, and that’s pretty exciting. When you think about it, cars are something that a lot of us use every day, but they have been mostly neglected when it comes to new technology. If this year’s CES is any indication of where the auto industry is headed, I think we’re in pretty good shape.

With two days down and two days to go, what has been the coolest thing you’ve seen at CES? What product are you billing a ‘must buy?’ We would love to hear from you! Drop us a comment below or connect with us on Twitter.

 

 

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