Cars may not yet be airborne, as predicted by the reliable forecaster Back To The Future. But they’re still capable of wowing the masses with their ever-expanding arsenal of technologies.

January is a key month for the automotive industry, with the world’s largest electronics gathering in Las Vegas as well as the expansive auto show in the car capital Detroit. A main focal point at each of these events is forthcoming cutting edge automotive innovations. Intelligent cars are creating widespread industry buzz, as the world increasingly relies on intuitive machines to accomplish everyday tasks. At the Detroit Auto show, major brands are pushing each other aside to tout their cutting-edge capabilities.

The business of cars is getting bigger every year. Here are the four emerging innovations that will be coming soon to a showroom near you.

Going Green

Mid-priced sedans are starting to resemble pricier vehicles. Cars across the industry are becoming more alike as the gap between luxury and affordable rapidly closes. They’re also striving to be fuel efficient in an era where America’s level of oil consumption is being questioned.

For several years, the Toyota Prius has dominated the hybrid market with its landmark vehicle Prius. Now Ford has entered the space with its own sleek hybrid the “C-Max.” Mileage efficient vehicles are becoming a priority across the industry, as America looks to wean itself off its fuel addiction.

Dashboard Infotainment Systems

Connectivity is upon us. With Ford unleashing its new cloud-based SYNC system, the driver’s external existence is seamlessly transferred into the driving experience. You can customize your favorite entertainment tools, retrieve real-time traffic information, and even have your store your personal in-car seating preferences.

And companies like Hyundai are integrating voice-command activation into their new vehicles. The way cars use navigation is changing before our eyes with services like up-to-the-minute parking availability, which just launched for Los Angeles parking in the notoriously car-centric city. Major brands like Toyota, Ford and Audi are realizing the value of smart parking by updating their navigation systems.

Driver-less Driving

One of the cooler news stories of 2012 was Google’s unveiling of its driver-less car. Imagine the possibility of taking a nice long drive up the California coast while simultaneously being able to catch up on work from your laptop. It’s closer than you might think.

While Google has been extensively testing its “computer-led driving,” it still seems like something out of a science fiction movie. But the technology company isn’t the only one getting ideas. Lexus has also created the driver-less prototype, a highly intelligent system that mimics human road detection and can even wake up a sleepy driver.

Self-Parking Vehicles

We’re still a ways off from cars that can auto-drive, brush your hair, floss your teeth all while fixing up a cafe latte. Now that would be something. But we’re actually much closer than you think to cars that can intelligently park themselves.

Some people struggle mightily with the parallel parking, and soon that task will be completely obsolete. This innovation has the potential to disrupt the entire valet parking industry. The Audi A7 can park itself, and then be summoned to pick up the driver by smartphone. Amazing.

Photo Courtesy of The Auto Channel