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The Beach Boys would have loved it. When Cadillac's new XTS luxury sedan goes on sale in the United States in the second quarter of this year it will come with its own 'good vibrations' - buzzers in the driver's seat to warn of impending danger.
The system, which GM says is a world first, makes the side bolsters of the seat squab vibrate - on the left or right to warn of lane drifting or too-close parking, and on both sides to alert the driver to problems from the front or rear.
The system works together with visual signals, and GM says its research shows the buzzing quickly focuses drivers' attention on potential problems.
“It's like somebody tapping on your shoulder to get your attention.”
GM active safety boffin Raymond Kiefer said: “Using tactile signals to tell people where the problem is seems to cut through the clutter of visual and audible information that drivers routinely have to deal with.”
Adrian Lund, president of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, said: “It's good to see car companies experimenting with new technology to warn drivers when they're about to get into trouble.”
The vibrating seat is part of two new Cadillac safety packages; the Driver Awareness package, which will be available for the XTS from launch, includes front collision warning, lane change warning, blind spot warning, and a (very suburban) function that warns the driver of oncoming traffic when backing out of a driveway.
The Driver Assist package, which will be available later in the year, will have adaptive cruise control, automatic collision preparation, and front and rear automatic braking.
Both packages will also be made available later in 2012 for the Cadillac ATS sedan and SRX crossover.
Kiefer said: “Vibrating alerts help drivers who do not hear beeping alerts due to hearing loss or competing noises - and may be preferred by drivers and passengers who are annoyed by beeps.
“The last thing we want is for people to switch off the car's safety systems.”
The vibrating seat works with an array of sensors and cameras to help it decide when to 'buzz' the driver; for example, if an indicator is flashing, the lane change warning on that side won't be activated.
It's also connected to the parking sensors; as the car reverses, the seat gives the driver a few quick pulses when an obstruction is first detected, then provides repeated pulses when it gets closer.
“It's an intuitive system,” said Kiefer, “and we feel customers will appreciate the 'good vibrations' from the seat.