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Self-driving cars to headline CES 2017

CES will showcase the near-future of cars, with autonomous driving demos, new concept cars and a production EV from Faraday Future.

Antuan Goodwin/Roadshow

Over the last decade, CES has become as much about cars as it is about consumer electronics. But 2017 looks ready to blow up even harder with more automotive tech than ever before. The biggest trend will be self-driving cars, exhibited by both automakers and technology companies. Add to that concept cars intended to show what a self-driving car of the future might look like.

Along with the self-driving trend, we have a couple of production car reveals, for those automakers who want to get out there ahead of the following week's Detroit auto show. Other demonstrations will show off concept technology from BMW, equipment supplier Continental and many others that could find its way into production cars of the near future.

New electric cars

Faraday Future will unmask its first production vehicle, an electric car, at CES 2017.

Faraday Future

Upstart electric carmaker Faraday Future showed off a concept car at CES 2016, and leads up to the next CES with plenty of teases about its first production car. So far, Faraday has given us a few photos and videos of a camouflaged car conducting road tests and drag-racing against a Tesla, Ferrari and Bentley. The Faraday Future car looks like it might be a crossover, but we have no information on range or production timing.

Chrysler already revealed a plug-in hybrid version of its new Pacifica minivan, which boasts a fairly large 16 kilowatt-hour battery pack. A fully electric version of the Pacifica will reportedly be unveiled at CES. FCA, Chrysler's parent company, will hold a press conference on January 3 where the car would be revealed, although it might just be a concept.

Self-driving technology

Hyundai's autonomous Ioniq will be driving itself around Las Vegas during CES.

Antuan Goodwin/Roadshow

Hyundai gave Roadshow's Antuan Goodwin a preview ride in a self-driving version of its new Ioniq sedan, and will show off these research vehicles during CES. Of his driving experience, Goodwin wrote that the car was programmed to drive conservatively, making for a boring but safe experience. With this platform, Hyundai will show CES crowds that it is investing in the future.

Automotive technology supplier Delphi has also provided information about its self-driving demonstration for CES. The company has fitted an Audi SQ5 with sensors and self-driving capability, and will be showcasing its new partnership with Mobileye, a computer vision processing company. One highlight of Delphi's self-driving demonstration during CES will be how its car handles a tunnel, where its GPS signal fails.

Chipmakers will also be on hand to show off how their silicon can process the complex dance of sensor input and drive control output. Japanese chip company Renesas, which counts clients ranging from automotive to factories, will have a prototype self-driving car at the show. Likewise, NXP, which has focused on chips for the automotive industry, will be giving a self-driving car demonstration.

Concept cars

Although not conventionally attractive, the NeuV could be quite comfortable inside.

Honda

Honda explores a high-tech edge with the NeuV concept car it will show during CES. NeuV takes a look at what a commuter car of the near future might look like. The boxy shape suggests function over form, with a comfortable, computer-infused interior designed to react to occupants. Honda suggests that the NeuV would address traffic congestion, possibly through vehicle-to-vehicle communication systems.

Swiss firm Rinspeed, known for coming out with outlandish concept cars that push the technological envelope, will have its latest creation Oasis at the show, presented with partner Harman International. Oasis considers the question of what passengers will do when cars become self-driving. The cabin not only has a TV, but also a garden.

Other concept cars from the likes of Toyota, BlackBerry and even glass maker Corning will show off their sponsoring companies' areas of expertise.

In-car electronics

BMW looks at a futuristic concept for how we might interact with our cars.

BMW

The electronics focus of CES always means a wealth of concept technologies for the car of the future. BMW takes a lead here by showing off what it calls HoloActive Touch, a means of controlling the car's stereo, navigation and other systems through a combination of gesture control and head-up display. BMW already offers both of these technologies in its production cars, so the combination may not be as far-fetched as it might look at first glance.

Automotive equipment maker Continental also has some high-tech cabin gimmicks to show, these in the realm of biometrics. Taking a hint from phones and smart locks, Continental will bring a dashboard-ready fingerprint authentication system to the show. The company suggests cars could require a keyfob and a fingerprint, so help further stymie car thieves. It also will show a facial recognition system, that could recognize drivers and load their personalized settings, such as seat and mirror positions, all automatically.

Press preview days for CES run on January 3 and 4, while the show itself opens from January 5 to 8. Check back here for all of CNET's CES coverage.

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