We’ve all heard it: one day, we’re going to have self-driving cars. That day is coming closer, and while not for the mainstream, actually already has arrived. Nevada recently adopted changes to its laws that allow for Google’s autonomous vehicles to roam its roads. California’s legislature is considering similar measures. In the luxury sector, we’re moving increasingly toward autonomous driving.
The first step was radar-based cruise control and now Cadillac is developing a technology called “Super Cruise” that we could see rolled out as soon as 2014. Via Motor Authority, this was announced at the recent Driverless Car Summit by Gary Smyth, executive director of GM’s North American Science laboratories.
The system works largely by taking together and processing data from existing systems put into place in today’s modern luxury vehicles. That includes radar and laser-based collision detection systems, laser-guided cruise control, lane departure warning, blind zone detection systems and GPS. Cadillac calls this sensor fusion and enabling these systems to talk to each other is absolutely key. With Super Cruise, the next step to this plethora of technologies is lane centering. Lane centering allows the driver to take their hands off the steering wheel, for “hands off” driving.
Systems are already in place for acceleration and braking, but the steering needs to have continuous input and guidance. The system is already undergoing testing and it is designed for highway use only. Super Cruise will mark the second step of autonomous driving; the first is Feet Off, Second is Hands Off, Third is Eyes off and fourth is People Out. Scary. Disagree with the technology or not, what is good to see is Cadillac moving forward with technology. With the XTS, Cadillac has begun to show some leadership on this front. This is a welcome change from years of also-ran status. Who knows? Cadillac may even be the first to market with this.