General Motors is trying to beat Google at the self-driving car game—they announced recently that some of their 2017 Cadillacs will offer near automation.
GM is calling the technology “Super Cruise,” according to the L.A. Times, and it will allow drivers to relax and let the car keep itself in a lane, maintain speed, and steer and brake when needed. GM’s boss Mary Barra used SoCal references to describe the technology: “With Super Cruise, when there’s a congestion alert on roads like California’s Santa Monica Freeway, you can let the car take over and drive hands-free and feet-free through the worst stop-and-go traffic around,” Barra is quoted as saying. “And if the mood strikes you on the high-speed road from Barstow, California to Las Vegas, you can take a break from the wheel and pedals and let the car do the work.”
The cars will comply with current California law by including manual controls for drivers to take over in case of emergency (currently in the shape of a big red button). Google’s cars would lack steering wheels or brake pedals.
GM is also working on a Cadillac that can share information with other vehicles, a feature that could ostensibly cut down on accidents and alleviate traffic. The vehicle-to-vehicle service will be little help when the cars go on the market in a couple years—since few other cars will have it—but could be very useful as other carmakers adopt the technology.
Speaking of which, Nissan, Acura, Subaru, and Mercedes-Benz are also working on cars with certain self-driving aspects. Who knows who will get there first, but it’s reassuring knowing American companies like Google and GM are top contenders in the robot race. Watch a video of an early prototype below, via NPR.