Cars of the Future Feature Solar, Driverless Tech at CES

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Solar panels on cars? It's one of the ideas showing up at CES 2014.

The cars of the future look more like computers than ever at the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. They’re also packed with technologies to make our lives easier and more efficient.

Ford’s C-Max Solar Energi concept car for example, pairs a solar panel on the roof of the vehicle with a canopy that serves as a magnifying glass.

“We’re able to fully recharge the battery with just using the sun,” explained Mike Tinskey, Global Director of Vehicle Electrification and Infrastructure for Ford. “As the sun traverses the sky we actually have to keep that focus on the solar panels. The way we do that, we actually use the vehicle autonomously to move. It keeps it concentrated at all times.”

Driverless vehicles have seen lots of buzz in recent years and they look more like reality than ever on the Las Vegas show floor.

Audi impressed visitors to CES with a preview of its autonomous technology, which it hopes to bring to market in just five years.

“This car on a public highway,” said Brian Cooley, CNET Editor at Large, “Is able to use it’s own radar, sonar, forward cam and a new laser that’s invisible. [Also] laserlight to map out the world around it at 40mph doing it’s own steering, braking and accelerating.”

One challenge for driverless vehicles is avoiding wrecks. Ford’s vehicle-to-vehicle communication technology attempts to address that using WiFi and GPS signals. Greg Stevens, Global Manager for Ford Driver Assistance, described how the tool works this way: “As long as the vehicle knows where the other vehicles are, if there’s any sort of collision scenario that might be occurring then we can provide a warning.”

For more on the cars making a splash at CES this year, visit CBS News partner


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