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When we said less than a year ago that within the foreseeable future, cars would have to drive themselves because their owners would too busy tweeting, texting and surfing the net to watch the road, we had no idea just how close that future was.
Now everybody's working on autonomous driving technology, including GM flagship brand Cadillac, which has a system called 'Super Cruise' that's capable of fully automatic steering, braking and lane-keeping, even if only under perfect conditions.
And it could be available in production vehicles as early as 2015…
According to GM the system uses inputs from radar, ultrasonic sensors, cameras and GPS to operate rear automatic braking, forward collision alert, an adaptive cruise control that works at any speed, a 'safety alert' driver's seat, lane-keeping warning, a rear cross-traffic alert and a rear-vision camera with dynamic guidelines.
Many of these features are already available on current Cadillac models as part of the optional Driver Assistance Package; the SuperCruise system takes a big step forward by interconnecting them to work together.
There are, however, limits.
GM admits the system doesn't see very well in rain or fog, or when the road markings are old and faded, at which point the human driver will have to come to the rescue.
GM director for active safety John Capp said: “The primary goal of GM's autonomous and semi-autonomous vehicle development is safety.
“In future autonomous driving systems with advanced safety systems could help eliminate crashes altogether by stepping in before the drivers is even aware of a dangerous situation.”
“More than ever, drivers will be able to trust their car to do the right thing.”
Now there's a scary thought.