For a number of years now, Google has been leading the way in self-driving, autonomous car technology. However, car makers Toyota and Audi are now developing the vehicles themselves, independently of the Internet search giant.
Both companies have confirmed that they will demonstrate self-driving systems at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), the biggest technology trade show of the year, which begins on 8th January. Toyota released a brief, 5 second teaser clip this week, showing its prototype Lexus LS 600h. This is apparently codenamed the AASRV (Advanced Active Safety Research Vehicle) and will "lead the industry into a new automated era."
As you can see in the video below, it appears very similar to a Google self-driving Prius – but as mentioned, Toyota has developed this model entirely independently, with no partnership involved. In addition to the vehicle itself, they will also discuss the state of Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) research and development, which includes vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communications technology. This is expected to be fairly widespread by 2019 and could massively reduce the number of casualties on the roads.
As for Audi, there is no video available. However, a spokesperson has stated that its car will include a feature allowing it to find a parking space and park without a driver behind the wheel.
Thanks largely to Google's lobbying efforts, new laws were introduced last year – in California and Nevada – to make self-driving vehicles a reality. It's clear that this technology is moving forward and could soon enter the mainstream. In our recent poll, 70% of readers said they would feel safe riding in a computer-controlled car.