In the near future, General Motors expects to start selling a Cadillac vehicle that can drive itself. This luxury car could be on America’s roads by the summer of 2016. The company’s CEO recently revealed these plans during a speech that she delivered at Detroit’s Intelligent Transport Society.
Speaking to ITS World Congress attendees, Mary Barra explained that an unnamed 2017 model will feature an advanced form of cruise control. The system enables a vehicle to intelligently operate its own brakes and accelerator during traffic jams and highway travel. She predicted that a fully self-driving auto might be available by 2020.
The Super Cruise system was first demonstrated about two years ago. It won’t allow drivers to safely fall asleep or watch movies behind the wheel. Motorists would have to remain aware of road conditions and take control when the situation becomes too complex for the automobile.
Barra also announced that the 2017 model of the Cadillac CTS sedan will feature a new vehicle-to-vehicle communications system. The V2V technology enables a car to gather data from other nearby autos and use it to warn drivers about oncoming hazards. Cars with this feature share information on their current speeds and locations.
The system could help Cadillac develop more sophisticated self-driving autos that can adapt to urban conditions. However, this capability won’t be very useful to computerized or human drivers until a significant number of vehicles feature it. Other automakers have yet to announce specific plans to incorporate V2V technology.
Although it may take a number of years for automakers to develop cars that safely automate all driving, impressive progress toward this goal has been achieved in recent years. Bloomberg reports that certain Acura models automatically apply their brakes when the next car travels at a slower speed.
As GM’s CEO pointed out in her speech, completely automated vehicles already exist but aren’t for sale. A computer-driven Chevrolet Tahoe successfully traveled 60 miles in 2007, making its way through intersections and traffic. However, automakers still need to enhance and verify the safety of such vehicles before the public can use them.