With the conclusion of the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas last week, automakers should have consumers really excited about what is about to come in terms of self-driving vehicles. Based on the showings from Mercedes Benz, Audi and BMW, the debut of autonomous vehicles may be sooner than we think.

Of course, prognosticators believed that self-driving cars would be a reality by the end of the decade. After the latest CES, it appears that they may be on the road with 2017 model year cars. A recent report by extremetech.com indicated that the Audi A7 concept car was driven with little assistance (by journalists, nonetheless) from Silicon Valley in California to Las Vegas. 

What makes these cars special (and interesting) is that they incorporate much of the same technology currently used by a number of vehicles, including adaptive cruise control, blind spot detection and a host of lasers and high definition video cameras that scan the area surrounding the vehicle for moving objects, and to track traffic near the vehicle.

While these advances are certainly impressive (a generation ago, self driving cars were merely fantasy) drivers are still likely to be charged with the responsibility to use reasonable while behind the wheel. Auto driving features are still going to be controlled and governed by human drivers, who must still refrain from using alcohol, limit distractions and drive using safe speeds depending on road conditions.

In the meantime, it remains to be seen who will be the first automaker to introduce a self-driving car.