Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors, has recently announced that the company plans to introduce 120-miles of technology-enabled highways in and around the Motor City.
By 2017, GM is planning on deploying vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication systems as a standard in its Cadillac CTS sedan. Equipped with the company’s “Super Cruise” technology, future vehicles will be able to drive themselves, handling highway speeds of up to 70mph. GM’s semi-automated technology will keep a vehicle in a specific, properly equipped freeway lane, making necessary steering and speed adjustments in bumper-to-bumper traffic or long highway trips. However, unlike the driverless vehicle being tested by Google, GM’s system will still require drivers to remain attentive and ready to resume control of the vehicle.
Although Google’s driverless cars have been at the center of all the buzz, several automakers aren’t too far behind in the IoT fast lane. According to reports, Audi, Mercedes-Benz, Ford, Nissan, Toyota and Tesla are among the latest manufactures dipping their toes into the autonomous driving waters.
In line with our previous discussions around V2V, these new GM endorsed roadways will allow cars to “talk” with one another, thereby promoting safety, reducing traffic congestion and improving fuel economy. Jon Lauckner, GM’s CTO believes, “in the not so distant future, intelligent and connected vehicle technologies could help eliminate the crash altogether.”
The U.S. Department of Transportation has also recently said it is considering adopting a rule by 2016 requiring V2V systems. V2V communications use a variation of the 802.11 wireless network standard used by laptops and mobile phones, but instead link cars, which can share position and speed information with each other 10 times per second.
“I’m convinced customers will embrace V2V and automated driving technologies for one simple reason: they are the answer to everyday problems that people want solved,” Barra said.
According to GM’s CEO, the so-called Super Cruise technology will “kick in 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.” She adds, “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. Having it done for you — that’s true luxury.”
That being said, safety remains the paramount concern when assimilating driverless vehicles onto modern roadways. “The key to all these systems is big data — the mounds of information flowing in and out of your vehicle from intelligent transportation systems, otherwise known as vehicle-to-vehicle or vehicle-to-infrastructure technology,” Forbes‘ Joann Muller explains.
At this week’s Intelligent Transportation Systems World Congress in Detroit, Honda and GM unveiled systems where pedestrian smartphones would send alerts to drivers about an individual’s location. These alerts, scanned for every 10 seconds by the vehicle, could greatly improve pedestrian safety in heavily-trafficked areas.
While full vehicle autonomy may not be on the immediate horizon, there are still concrete steps being taken by major industry players to get ahead of the technology curve. With some driverless cars hitting the streets next year, this topic of discussion will only heat up.