If you thought that the self-driving cars business was purely the remit of Google, then think again because BMW have just made an almighty splash with their “drifting” self-drive technology.

Amid the glitzy glamour of Las Vegas the modified 2-Series Coupe and 6-Series Gran Coupe from BMW stole the spotlight at the latest Consumer Electronics Show (CES) with some truly smooth moves. Using a combination of ultrasonic sensors, cameras and 360 degree radar technology, these BMWs coasted effortlessly around a show racetrack and performed perfect power slides without the driver so much as touching the wheel.

See the next generation technology in action for yourself with this promotional video released earlier this month by BMW:

We’re greeting the development of driverless technology with great excitement, especially since the pace of progress seems to be rapidly increasing. BMW aren’t the only ones expending substantial resources in this arena, as Toyota also demonstrated its own autonomous car at CES. Even Bosch – mostly known for its reputation in the tools and white goods market – threw its hat into the ring with some self-parking software controlled purely by smartphone!

While autonomous car technology certainly has a futuristic feel to it, perhaps the core principle driving it forward is that of improving road safety. America is leading the charge in this sector as their annual average of 50,000 road fatalities remains worryingly high. A study recently released by the Eno Center for Transportation suggests that this figure could be reduced by 1,000 if approximately 10 percent of cars driven on US roads had autonomous driving technology.

Fortunately, the shift has already begun, with self-parking features and sensors that warn you if you are about to drift lanes already being incorporated into the latest emerging models. Further testing both in the labs of leading car manufacturers and out on actual roads should result in increased adoption of this technology.

Currently the states of California, Florida and Nevada have all licensed autonomous vehicles to be tested on their public roads. Google's fleet of 24 robot Lexus SUVs have already racked up almost half a million miles of completely unassisted driving and as yet no accidents or other mishaps have been reported.

However, there’s still some way to go before we see autonomous cars being driven on the roads of Europe. As yet no European country has given license for their road testing and without solid results in real-life road conditions the technology will have to remain parked for the moment. Still, if the sterling results gathered in the US continue in the same trend, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to assume that some enterprising European nations might follow suit!