Cars of the future on display in Vegas

An Audi RS 5 Cabriolet is displayed during the first day of the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas Credit: Steve Marcus / Reuters

In the not too distant future you’ll be able to kick back, read the paper or answer emails whilst your car drives you to work.

Google has been trialling its driverless car for over two years now but now the likes of Lexus, Audi and Volvo are all entering the arena, bringing the technology one step closer to becoming a widespread reality.

Lewis Vaughan Jones reports:

At CES, the world’s biggest technology show in Las Vegas, Toyota showed off the self-driving Lexus. Based on similar technology (though not the same they stress) to Google’s offering, the car is able to safely navigate the roads.

The state of Nevada became the first in the United States to allow driverless cars on its roads and car manufacturers insist it’s the future.

However, Las Vegas resident Mike Nicholl who runs a classic car dealership is not convinced by the thought of computers taking over the driving. “Everybody has sat at their desk at some point and had their PC crash on them. I’d hate that situation through busy traffic,” he said.

Both Lexus and Audi maintain that it won’t take away the driving experience completely though.

“The driver keeps driving. Audi stands for driving but in boring situations like a traffic jam the car can take over the driving and the driver can do other things,” says Lorenz Bohrer from Audi.

Home and car entertainment company Harman is aiming to make driving safer with a host of features to aid the driver.

These include gesture recognition to allow the driver or passenger to change the music, the volume or to even scroll through their phone book to make a phone call. The information is projected on a head-up display on the windscreen.

The company also boasts a feature which integrates into the satellite navigation unit to show the user exactly which lane they should move into approaching an exit.

Harman's entertainment system allows you to control your car's music system by gesturing Credit: ITV News

Ultimately Harman say that the car will know how long it has to wait at a red light and can use this time to stream email or messages to the head-up display.

Whether drivers want a computer to take over the work for them remains to be seen, but the future of driving looks set to be safer for everyone if the car giants can push through these technologies to the showroom.