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Car Tech

The Σtos is a self-driving sports car with a folding steering wheel and its own drone

Rinspeed blends enthusiasm and tech in its autonomous concept for CES 2016.

Why yes, that is a personal drone landing pad on the trunk.Rinspeed

The next CES doesn't kick off in Las Vegas until January 2016, but the hype train is already leaving the station -- with or without a driver. The first CES-bound concept to appear is the Rinspeed Σtos, a sports car that features both autonomous and piloted driving modes. And it has its own personal drone, too.

While many manufacturers are rolling out concepts that kill off any notion of a human pilot, Rinspeed believes that the move towards autonomy will be a gradual one. As well it should be -- ask any enthusiast his or her feelings on self-driving cars, and you're bound to hear plenty of grumbling. Therefore, the Σtos (your guess is as good as ours regarding pronunciation) will still let meatbags take the wheel.

The Σtos features a steering wheel that retracts into the dash when the car takes control.Rinspeed

When it's time to let the electronics take control, Rinspeed's designed a system where the wheel folds into the dashboard and two curved screens move forward, allowing the occupants to better work with the Σtos's Harman-engineered connected-car technology that promises "perfect entertainment, connectivity, and maximum safety," albeit without any additional specifics. It is a concept, after all, so we'll forgive the idealism.

None of that is really new, though. Automakers have been touting autonomous cars for years now, whether they're small, potentially shared vehicles (like Google's self-driving car) or big rigs that will expedite long-haul shipping (like the Freightliner concept approved for on-road testing in Nevada).

What is new is the drone included with the Σtos. With a landing pad built into the car's rear end, the quadcopter is designed to accomplish tasks that will both save the owner from additional hassles and enhance the overall driving experience. Rinspeed mentions the drone fetching flowers for the driver to avoid an extra trip and acting as a live action cam for showing off your back-road driving skills.

Concepts are always an exercise in what could be, and Rinspeed's Σtos perfectly exemplifies humanity's current need for technology to both improve upon what's already out there (cars) and create new avenues for productivity (autonomy, drone-based or otherwise). Whether or not any of this will actually come to fruition is a whole 'nother story.