Cruise control on steroids: Imagine telling your car where you want to go. It then plots a route and takes you there, observing all traffic rules and braking for pedestrians and kids on bikes. Google has patented just such a system, rolling up more than 100,000 road-test miles in a fleet of Toyota Priuses. And Volkswagen teamed with Stanford to send a driver-free Audi TT up Pike’s Peak.
Wireless charging: What if you could charge your electric car simply by parking at home, at work or in a public lot—no plug required? Yep, it’s in the works. A transmitting mat on the floor (or built into the concrete of a parking space) aligns with a receiver under the vehicle, and electricity flows across a gap of a few inches. This year, Evatran will start selling a $2,500 home wireless kit for the Nissan Leaf and Chevrolet Volt. Automakers themselves may start offering an option in 2014.