The annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES for short) in Las Vegas has become one of the most eagerly anticipated in the year. Everyone loves technology, right? And CES previews the gadgets and tech we'll all be using in the next decade - and beyond. It should be no surprise then that the car makers have hijacked it for themselves, going from a minor presence a few short years ago to full-blown, headline grabbing world debuts. The 2016 running was no different. Here we pick out our favourite car-related gadgets of the show.
1 - Smartwheel
It's all too easy to be distracted by our phones while driving, isn't it? Even the most committed to road safety may find themselves tempted to check their email and social media feeds while stuck in traffic. This situation is likely to get even worse as the current generation of teenagers graduate to driving. It's for them that the Smartwheel has been invented. It's a steering wheel cover that snaps onto the regular rim of a normal steering wheel that monitors whether the driver is holding the wheel properly. If not, it warns them using a series of lights and sounds until they do. Sounds annoying, but could be a useful learning aid too. It's going on sale in the States to start with
2 - Ehang 184
Sexy name, right? And actually, we're not sure this is technically a car gadget, but it's still well worth checking out. This is claimed to be the world's first passenger-carrying drone. It carries one person to wherever they want, completely autonomously, so no flying licence or experience is needed. Sounds frightening, doesn't it? Yet also incredibly useful. It can fly for up to 23 minutes at speeds of up to 100km/h and an altitude of 3.4 kilometres. Eight propellers, mounted on four retractable arms, are powered by electricity and it takes about four hours to recharge the battery pack. Apparently, Ehang, a Chinese company, plans to start sales of the 184 later this year, priced at about €270,000.
3 - Ziro
Again, I know we're stretching the automotive link here, but this is just too cool to pass up on. Ziro is a robotics kit that includes a Power Glove (best said in a deep and loud voice) to control the robots you build. Yes, we want one too. The demonstration in Vegas was of a four-wheeled robot with an electric motor on each wheel. The Power Glove connects to the robot - or 'car' as we like to call it - via Wi-Fi and its movements are then controlled by various gestures, which can be programmed by the user. Apparently the first iteration of this will go on sale this year from no more than about €200 in the States.
4 - Faraday Future FFZero1
Less of a gadget and more of a full-on supercar, the Faraday FFZero1 grabbed a lot of attention in Vegas. Mostly because it looks like something the man of bats would drive around Gotham City in. Being CES, it's more about what's under the jet fighter like skin, and it's all business, with an advanced new electric powertrain that apparently could be paired with any body style. The FFZero1 gets 1,000hp and 0-100km/h in under three seconds, but the company, Faraday Future, is dead set on being a genuine rival for Tesla on the mass market too. Don't bet against it.
5 - BMW i8 Mirrorless
We've seen countless concept cars without door mirrors, but BMW seems to be serious about replacing them with an advanced camera system and at CES it displayed the i8 Mirrorless. As the name suggests, it's a version of its hybrid sports car, fitted with cameras instead of conventional mirrors. Tiny cameras are mounted in new aerodynamic housings on the doors and the image from those is added to that from another at the back of the roof to create one crystal clear picture on a special screen that replaces the rear-view mirror. No blind spots, no adjustment of the mirrors for different drivers and many advanced features to enhance safety.