General Motors Company (NYSE:GM), which has been testing a self-drive version of its iconic Cadillac, will have one ready by 2017, the company announced Sunday. The automation is expected to help improve road safety as well as reduce driver involvement.
GM will introduce a model of its luxury brand Cadillac, which will be equipped with advanced driver-assist technology to allow drivers to take their hands off the wheel while their vehicles safely cruise at highway speeds for long distances. CEO Mary Barra, speaking at the opening ceremony of the Intelligent Transportation Society World Congress in Detroit, reportedly made the announcement.
“A tide of innovation has invigorated the global auto industry, and we are taking these giant steps forward to remain a leader of new technology,” Barra said in a statement, adding: “We are not doing this for the sake of the technology itself. We’re doing it because it’s what customers around the world want. Through technology and innovation, we will make driving safer.”
The 2017 Cadillac CTS will be the first car equipped with vehicle-to-vehicle, or V2V, communication technology, which is designed to help reduce traffic congestion and prevent motor accidents. The exchange of information such as location, speed and direction of travel between vehicles within 300 meters of one another is expected to help the system improve passenger safety. The system also reportedly has the capability to warn the driver if a vehicle five cars away crashes or skids on black ice.
However, drivers cannot completely relax and switch off while the car is in motion, a Forbes report said, adding that GM is also working on ways to ensure the driver remains engaged during the journey.
GM’s Super Cruise, an automated driving technology planned for the upcoming Cadillac, is a hands-free feature that can be used in bumper-to-bumper traffic as well as on long drives. The system will allow drivers to select a lane and then take over, following the vehicle ahead of it and adjust speed, and even braking when necessary.
“With Super Cruise, when there’s a congestion alert on roads like California’s Santa Monica Freeway, you can let the car take over and drive hands free and feet free through the worst stop-and-go traffic around,” Barra said, in a speech at Detroit's Cobo Center, Bloomberg reported. “If the mood strikes you on the high-speed road from Barstow, California, to Las Vegas, you can take a break from the wheel and pedals and let the car do the work.”
However, Jon Lauckner, GM’s technology chief, likened the V2V technology to a "chicken-and-egg" situation like that involving electric vehicles, according to reports.
“In order to make electric vehicles really useful, we need charging infrastructure. But the companies that make charging stations say we can’t do unless there are electric cars,” adding that governments will not help install smart infrastructure systems until there are enough vehicles on the road to use the new system.
GM and Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F) are now reportedly partnering with the Michigan Department Transportation to create communications technology corridors along about 120 miles of freeways around Detroit. To achieve this, car makers will begin equipping their cars with the new technology while the government will work to equip state highways with a network of sensors and cameras that will communicate with the cars and also collect data.
However, the new V2V technology will most likely take about 15 years for its benefits to be realized, because the 2017 CTS, for example, will not be able to communicate with other cars until they are equipped with the same technology.
“There’s no way to take all the cars off the road, and put all new ones out and they’re all talking to others,” John Capp, director of global vehicle safety at GM, reportedly said, adding: “In the beginning, you won’t get a lot of warnings.” But, as the technology begins to find its way into other vehicles it is expected to become more effective.
Barra, who has overseen GM's recall of 29 million vehicles this year, including one involving defective ignition switches that have been linked to at least 13 deaths, also reportedly called on the industry to speed up the work on technology that would increase communications between vehicles on the road.
“I am asking all of you to accelerate your work in the field as well,” Barra reportedly said. “Let’s strive to build cars and trucks that don’t crash. Let’s connect our vehicles.”