Is a self-driving Cadillac just two years away?

September 17, 2014

A future replete with self-driving cars and vehicle-to-vehicle technology has been on our mind lately, and the developments are closer to fruition than you might expect: In just two years, the Cadillac CTS 2017 will likely be the first car on the road to drive itself. Last week, General Motors, which produces the Cadillac, announced new developments at the yearly World Congress on Intelligent Transport Systems in Detroit.

General Motors CEO Mary Barra specifically addressed three significant technologies: ‘Super Cruise’ semi-autonomous driving; vehicle-to-infrastructure communication; and vehicle-to-vehicle communication. Similar to cruise control, which lets drivers remove their feet from the pedals, Super Cruise lets drivers take advantage of “hands-off lane following, braking and speed control in certain highway driving conditions,” according to GM. Mercedes currently has technology like this available for use in bumper-to-bumper traffic, but Cadillac’s technology will work on highways. Super Cruise will debut in the 2017 Cadillac CTS.

The company is developing other two other technologies, including vehicle-to-infrastructure communication, also known as Vehicle Infrastructure Integration or VII, which relies on in-road sensors that “talk” to passing cars. Rather than human drivers seeing and reading traffic signs, explains Jalopnik, “the road would just talk to your car. Physical road signs would be made obsolete in favor of constantly updating digital messages beamed to your car’s electronic brain.”

The first roads to be equipped with VII technology will be near Detroit, according to the Michigan Department of Transportation, starting with a 50-mile stretch and later expanding to 120 highway miles. The Department is joining with GM, Ford and the University of Michigan Mobility Transformation Center consortium to implement VII, in what is planned to be the biggest us of this type of technology in the U.S. when it is complete.

Barra also highlighted vehicle-to-vehicle communication, or V2V, which entails cars “talking” to other cars. It “could mitigate many traffic collisions and improve traffic congestion by sending and receiving basic safety information such as location, speed and direction of travel between vehicles that are approaching each other. It will warn drivers and can supplement active safety features, such as forward collision warning, already available on many production cars,” explains GM in a release.

The technological developments are much-hailed among for their potential impact on vehicle safety. Michigan, for one, will implement its system by installing sensors and cameras on its highways to collect information that can be shared with V2V and VII-enabled cars. “We need to bring [V2V technology] all to market and do it quickly,” CEO Barra explained. “Let’s strive to build cars and trucks that don’t crash.”

Delphi Automotive will provide the Cadillac’s new technology; the company says it will be the first to bring both V2V and VII to the market. The Detroit News reports that adding V2V to cars may cost approximately $300 per car, while the Super Cruise feature will likely be included as part of a premium technology package. At the outset, it’s likely that only a few CTS vehicles will be able to communicate with each other, as it may be years before other car manufacturers develop the necessary technology.

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Category: Automotive

About the Author ()

Katy is a writer, reporter and editor who, in addition to writing for RoadTrafficSigns, has worked with the United Nations Development Programme, Hamptons magazine, Hearst Corporation, The Daily Mail, People Magazine, and a variety of other publications and nonprofits. After graduating with honors from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in 2011, and distinctions on her thesis and in the consumer journalism seminar, she moved to Milan, Italy. In Italy, she worked as a writer and consultant for an international magazine, editing and translating text and reporting on such events as the Salone Internazionale del Mobile, the annual design fair. A born and raised New Yorker, she has lived in three of five boroughs, relying quite a bit on public transport until getting her driver's license at the admittedly belated age of 21.

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