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GM steps into autonomous driving

2014-09-08 12:58

CAR TALK: General Motors will offer vehicle to vehicle communication technology in their Cadillac CTS in 2017 which will send and receiving basic safety information between vehicles in close proximity. Image: Cadillac

DETROIT, Michigan - General Motors CEO Mary Barra unveiled plans on Sunday (September 7) to make driving safer through hands-free technology.

GM's Cadillac CTS will provide a semi-auto pilot mode called "Super Cruise" on certain 2017 model-year cars along with vehicle-to-vehicle communication to allow cars to react to each other at intersections and other situations.

Barra said the new technology would be available outside the US and was in demand in heavily congested Europe and in China, where accidents are taking an increasingly heavy toll.


"We are not doing this for the sake of the technology itself," Barra said. "We're doing it because it's what customers around the world want. Through technology and innovation, we will make driving safer."

Super Cruise will offer customers a new type of driving experience that includes hands-free lane following, braking and speed control in certain highway driving conditions. The system is designed to increase the comfort of an attentive driver on freeways, both in bumper-to-bumper traffic and on long road trips.

The vehicle-to-vehicle communication technology could mitigate many traffic collisions and reduce traffic congestion by sending and receiving basic safety information such as location, speed and direction of travel between vehicles approaching each other.

It will warn drivers and can supplement active safety features, such as forward collision warning, already available on many production cars.

As the world becomes more congested and new populations need access to personal mobility, collisions continue to be a global concern. A recent US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration study estimated that the economic and societal impact of motor vehicle crashes in the US was is more than $870-billion a year.

"Advancing technology so that people can more safely live their lives is a responsibility we embrace," Barra said.


Despite extensive recalls in recent months, Barra said people still trusted GM. She denied that people had grown more sceptical of GM's technology and the safety of its vehicles since the recalls began.

New-vehicle sales in the US have risen by 5% through 2014 to the of August, according to Autodata, but GM's sales have increased only 2% despite the introduction of a new line of sport utility vehicles. GM'S local line-up is due for a dramatic upgrade in 2015, with the introduction of 7 vehicles.

Sales of the company's flagship Cadillac brand have dropped by more than 4%.

Barra, who described Cadillac customers as "incredibly influential", said GM was rejuvenating the brand. "We have a lot of work to do at Cadillac. We're rebuilding Cadillac and that is going to take some time," she told reporters after a speech marking the opening of Intelligent Transportation System World Congress.

GM, which has recalled more than 15-million vehicles for repairs, has set aside $1.6 billion to cover the cost of recall-related claims from individual customers. Such recalls have spawned federal and state investigations as well as multiple lawsuits. but Barra stressed that despite that the company's vehicles were safe on the whole.

"When you look at the safety we have on today's vehicles, and the ratings they have from a variety of external sources, those vehicles speak for themselves," she said.

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