The Consumer Electronics Show might be about technology and gadgets but it’s focus over recent years has shifted toward innovation and specifically innovation in technology.  Car companies are at the forefront of this innovation and this was showcased tonight in Las Vegas at a Keynote Speech by Rupert Stadler, Chairman of the Board of Management of Audi AG. EFTM was there.

Concept Hybrid Sports Quattro Laserlight

Concept Hybrid Sports Quattro Laserlight

There’s a lot of technology in cars today, from lane assistance to adaptive cruise control to the infotainment systems we have in modern cars – much of which we’re already starting to take for granted.

So when we look further into the future just what are we expecting?  Last year at CES Lexus talked about the much hyped “self-driving car” being a long way off, and I tend to agree.  Tonight’s keynote by Audi was more real, more every day and made me think there was some self-driving ahead but for direct purposes not for entire trips, more for individual circumstances in a mode Audi calls Piloted Drive.

Showcasing the stunning advances in technology, Audi showed that just 12 months ago the technology to enable things like advanced vehicular “thinking” would take up the whole boot of the car.  Today that same technology is packed into a circuit board the size of a laptop computer.  That computing power is known in Audi as it’s ZFAS technology – capable of 2.5 billion data inputs per second, this is a computer that has to make important decisions about everything going on around the car.

Piloted Driving - Traffic Jam

Piloted Driving – Traffic Jam

By describing the autonomous car as “piloted drive” Audi are putting the focus on elements of the journey not the whole driving experience.

Imagine you arrive at the shopping centre, get out of the car and let it go and park itself.  Car parks are pretty easy places to predict and when combined with car park technology the car might even know where to go to find that empty spot.

Likewise you’re stuck in traffic.  We all know how painful that is, but also how simple that process of driving is.  Why not switch to Piloted Drive in your car and let it do the work?   Simple.  And that’s coming.

At the same event Audi welcomed AT&T onto the stage to talk about the first car in North America to include LTE connectivity in-built which will be part of the A3 range in the US.  This alongside NVidia who were showcasing their own chip building capabilities was a sign that Audi was working with the brains of Silicon Valley to get the best from every element of the innovative ideas.

Some of the talk when it came to the future revolved around moving from refining the automobile to redefining mobility.  Perhaps an acceptance that we are really on the last mile of innovation in what we know as driving today.  The cars are comfortable, safe, stupidly advanced for the driver and passengers so it really is now time to start looking at the environment around the car and how the car can change the way we drive.

Concept Hybrid Sports Quattro Laserlight

Concept Hybrid Sports Quattro Laserlight

It’s an exciting time for motoring generally. Just to show off even more, Audi drove out onto stage a stunning orange Sport Quattro Laserlight concept car.

This is basically a supercar.  Hybrid technology combined with a V8 engine delivering what is essentially 700 horsepower – that’s awesome.  With laser light technology on board that’s just one small feature which Audi will work on to potentially delivery down the line across its range – laser lights perform better and are more energy efficient than even LED so it’s logical.

Concept Hybrid Sports Quattro Laserlight

Concept Hybrid Sports Quattro Laserlight

Audi has a huge stand one the CES show floor, so there will be plenty more to see from Audi as the week goes on