Lexus, Audi Deliver Driverless Car News at CES

It's shaping up to be something of a landmark day in the history of driverless and semi-driverless cars; this week's 2013 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas brings autonomous-automobile announcements from at least two major automakers.

At a press conference scheduled for 2 p.m. EST today, Lexus will discuss its program exploring the use of autonomous technologies and high-level driver-assistance systems, according to a Toyota press release. Last week, Toyota released a brief video of an occupied but semi-driverless vehicle in action.

The presentation will include a discussion of the automaker's Intelligent Transport Systems program, which includes vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communication technologies that could eventually allow cars to "talk" to one another and interact accordingly to reduce accidents, as well as alleviate traffic congestion.

In other autonomous car news, Audi announced today that it has received the first permit and the second license from the state of Nevada to operate autonomous vehicles on public roads to test "piloted" driving. Google, which has been at the forefront of the autonomous-car movement, received the first license. In June 2011, Nevada passed a law calling for rules for operation on state highways of autonomous cars, which use artificial intelligence, sensors and GPS to coordinate themselves without active intervention by human operators; California and Florida have passed similar legislation.

"Audi envisions motorists enjoying the convenience of allowing the car to handle mundane stop-and-go driving conditions, for example, while still being able to take control of the car when needed," according to an Audi press release. "In this way, the technology is similar to autopilot systems found on jetliners."

Audi also said it would provide updates on strategies to its piloted driving and parking programs during CES. The automaker previously teamed with Stanford University on autonomous cars, and a driverless Audi TTS successfully completed the 156-turn, 12.42-mile Pikes Peak hill climb course in 27 minutes.

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News Editor Matt Schmitz is a veteran Chicago journalist indulging his curiosity for all things auto while helping to inform car shoppers.  Email Matt