Published April 20, 2012
Cadillacs are often driven by chauffeurs, but they’ve never come as standard equipment.
That might change soon.
The luxury car company has announced that it is developing technology that could put self-driving cars on the road by the middle of this decade.
Not entirely autonomous, the so-called “Super Cruise” system is an advanced version of the adaptive cruise control, crash avoidance and lane departure warning features already available on some of its cars.
Using cameras and radar sensors located around the vehicle, a prototype Cadillac ATS prototype has demonstrated that it is able to follow highway lane markers without any input from the driver, and bring the car to a complete stop if a vehicle ahead slows down.
The automaker is in the process of fine-tuning the human-machine interface, and trying to determine just how much and what type of driver involvement there should be when Super Cruise is active. One idea currently being tested is pressing an elbow against the seat back to reposition the car within the lane if, for instance, a large truck is riding very closely alongside.
The former head of research and development for General Motors, Larry Burns, recently predicted that fully self-driving cars will be on the road by 2020, and the news from Cadillac seems to point in that direction, but a GM spokesperson stresses that, for now, the new technology is more about improving driver performance than taking the driver completely out of the equation.
The chauffeurs’ union will be glad to hear it.