LAS VEGAS — Mercedes-Benz rolled out its F 015 Luxury in Motion self-driving luxury sedan at the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show, while Audi touted a long-distance test drive of the Audi A7 piloted driving concept.
"Step by step, automakers are getting closer to a future of driverless vehicles," said Ron Montoya, Edmunds.com consumer advice editor.
Autonomous driving is one of the major trends at the CES show, along with high-tech infotainment and display systems and new wearable automotive technology.
While car shoppers are not yet able to step into a showroom and walk out with a completely self-driving car, the two German automakers clearly are edging closer to a brave new world. In addition, Google debuted a podlike autonomous prototype last year and Nissan promised a self-driving car by 2020.
"The car is growing beyond its role as a mere means of transport and will ultimately become a mobile living space," said Daimler AG CEO Dieter Zetsche.
The new F 015 Luxury in Motion research vehicle, a vision of what driving might be like in 2030, is patterned after a private retreat and takes some of the autonomous features of the Mercedes-Benz S-Class flagship sedan to the next level.
The cabin of the F 015 Luxury in Motion features four rotating lounge chairs that can face each other. Six display screens integrated into the instrument panel and rear and side panels keep occupants connected to the car and the outside world through gestures, eye tracking or touch.
Instead of traditional headlights and taillights, the F 015 Luxury in Motion features color-changing light modules that are blue if the car is driving itself or white if the driver is in control.
Not to be outdone, Audi rolled into CES with its A7 piloted driving concept, which completed a 560-mile trek from Silicon Valley, California.
"The test drive resulted in actionable data to help further development of Audi pilot driving," said the automaker in a statement.
The concept uses "production-ready sensors" that detect the vehicle's surroundings. Laser scanners are built into the grille and rear bumper to provide "detailed recognition of static or dynamic objects."
In addition to the advances in self-driving cars, consumers are previewing production-ready innovations at CES.
Apple CarPlay and Android Auto will dominate much of the automotive conversation at CES, says Montoya, as both platforms aim to "maximize the smartphone experience inside the car." Hyundai is debuting its new Display Audio system and Ford is highlighting its new Sync 3 system that promises a touchscreen experience that's closer to smartphone interfaces.
Hyundai also is showcasing its Blue Link smartwatch app at 2015 CES. The watch allows users to unlock and lock doors and even start the vehicle with simple voice commands.
Edmunds says: The 2015 CES Show not only provides insights into the latest vehicle systems and gadgets, it also gives car shoppers a look into the future of driving.