You don't need a license to get behind a wheel or two at the Chicago Auto Show — but there's more to do than say "vroom, vroom."
The consumer show, running Saturday through Feb. 20, has diversions for those interested in tech, too, with simulators and virtual reality and augmented reality stations to demonstrate the latest in safety features and power and just have some electronic fun.
The MedEx Ambulance Service debuted its largest ambulance, customized with technology to provide on-site support to University of Chicago Medicine's helicopter transport network.
The 2017 Ford E-450 Type III ambulance allows for two-way communication between an in-air helicopter and an ambulance that will be taking the patient to the hospital.
That saves time that can impact lives, its developers said.
The ambulance crew on the ground can know, directly from the helicopter, about landing times and any change in patient condition, so it can respond with the proper equipment.
Traditionally, such information had to go through several steps — from the flight crew to a communications center to an ambulance dispatch center to the ambulance.
The Chicago Auto Show runs through Feb. 20. (Nancy Stone / Blue Sky)
The Dodge Challenger Challenge racetrack simulator features a version of the modern-day muscle car surrounded by screens, rigged to shake from the race and terrain.
The new Ford F-150 Raptor simulator features a chair rigged to pistons that move up, down and shake as riders move navigate a virtual course. Riders have to be at least 5-feet-2-inches tall.
Ford also has an electronic game kiosk that tests memory with observation and matching games — and let players drag race.
In Hyundai's area, guests can check out PlayStations that put visitors in arcade-style driver's seats.
Nissan has an entire "Star Wars" thing going on this year, with a section dedicated to "Rogue One"-related games and activities, including a virtual reality teaser trailer, a device that turns the images of visitors into those of stormtroopers, and an augmented reality set where visitors star in a short effects-laden video that's then sent to your smartphone for saving or sharing.
The company is selling a limited edition "Rogue One" vehicle — its appropriately named Nissan Rogue SUV with "Star Wars" accents.
Volvo is demonstrating its City Safety technology that detects pedestrians, large animals or other vehicles and provides a collision warning — lighting up the entire windshield in red to signal the driver might need to avoid the subject. The brakes will automatically engage if a collision seems imminent.
As part of the day-long Women Driving Excellence program Feb. 15, a 1 p.m. panel called "Leading Women in Tech" will talk about the state of women in tech and digital industries. Speakers include Sandra Edwards, founder of Wheelz on Time; Cayla Weisberg, partner at InvestHER Ventures; and Amanda Signorelli, CEO of Techweek.
Another panel, at 4 p.m., called "Leading Women in Business and Marketing," will have Rebecca Berneck, CEO of Office Heads; Tania Haigh, founder and CEO of Magnolia Insights; and Katherine McHenry, owner of Building Block Toys.