The Consumer Electronics Show (CES), the world’s biggest geek gadget-fest, has just concluded its annual exhibition in Las Vegas. Along with the usual next-new-thing hardware, game-changing software and mind-boggling robotics were some pretty nifty tech trends that may be showing up soon in an auto showroom near you. Some could even have the potential to make your daily drive a lot safer and your auto insurance a lot cheaper.
According to reporter Doug Newcomb, automakers overshadowed aftermarket add-ons hawkers this year, invading CES to tout their jaw-dropping electronic tech innovations. His top tech trends included:
- The star of the show by many accounts was the Audi A7 Piloted Concept, which tested its awesome self-driving technology on the 560-mile trip from San Francisco to Las Vegas. Also on display at CES was the new Mercedes-Benz F015, which features four swiveling lounge chairs and six high-res touch-screens that can also be controlled with gestures or eye movement. And, just in case all this auto autonomy scares the bejeebers out of pedestrians, the F015 can project a crosswalk from its front grill to let them know they need not be chicken to cross the road.
- Gesture control was also represented in VW’s Golf Touch R, a dazzling array of infotainment displays that can be activated with the wave of the hand. The VW concept also lets passengers gesture to activate the sunroof, windows and headlights.
- Drive PX Auto-Pilot Car Computer, the high-powered X1 computer processor from Nvidia, can crunch data from sensors to recognize and alert the driver to the presence of obstacles such as street signs, pedestrians, cyclists and other vehicles. Overtime, this automated co-pilot is capable of learning so that it can extrapolate things like a child about to dash in front of your car from said child reaching for a ball behind a parked car. Way better than your mother-in-law shrieking from the backseat.
- In the area of telematics, GM unveiled several additions to OnStar including “’a prognostic’ feature’ that monitors and reports on the health of car components such as the battery, starter and fuel system to alert owners before they become stranded.”
Meanwhile, people who fondly remember gas-guzzling cars that actually did something when you stepped on the accelerator will have reason to celebrate. Reporting on what will be hot at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show, Alex Taylor III says big horsepower is back, just in time for the return of the reasonably cheap gasoline needed to feed it. Expect to see a new generation of muscle cars able to burn 1.5 gallons or premium in a minute flat.
Also among Taylor’s trends to track: the death of the four-door sedan. Granddad’s favorite ride is being replaced by the crossover/SUV. Even traditionalist Rolls Royce is thinking about adding one to their lineup of limos and coupes. “Sales of utilities in the U.S. jumped 12% last year in an industry that rose 6%, and they now account for nearly one-third of new vehicle sales,” writes Taylor.
Whether these trends in safety-oriented technology will balance out the number of cars capable of doing 0 to 60 before you can scream remains to be seen. In the meantime, one thing hasn’t changed: whatever you’re driving, you need car insurance. You can shop for competitive auto insurance quotes online here.
 Alex Taylor III, “6 trends to watch for at the 2015 Detroit auto show,” http://fortune.com/2015/01/08/detroit-auto-show-trends