2. Autonomous driving

cadillac super cruise dash view

Cars that drive on their own are a few years away. But some automakers are rolling out features that let motorists enjoy a small taste of the future.

Tesla's Autopilot feature touts auto-steering and automatic emergency braking. On some roads, the vehicle can identify lane markers and steer to remain in the lane. If a driver doesn't see a pedestrian or other obstacle, automatic emergency braking activates to stop the car.

The car is guided by eight cameras, 12 ultrasonic sensors and radar technology, often used on ships and planes, to locate the direction and distance of objects. High-end models from Mercedes-Benz, General Motors and Volvo offer similar systems.

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Meanwhile, cars such as the Toyota Camry and Honda Civic currently feature adaptive cruise control, allowing them to automatically keep pace with the vehicle ahead of it.

The terms autonomous driving and self-driving are often used interchangeably. But there's a scale of autonomy ranging from low-end features like cruise control to high-end vehicles that are so self-sufficient they don't need steering wheels or pedals.

First published December 6, 2017: 8:24 PM ET