Hand and foot-free driving could be available in less than two years, as GM plans partial auto-pilot features.
General Motors is working on a car that drives partially in auto-pilot mode and can communicate with other vehicles equipped with similar technology. The first of these features will be included in select Cadillac vehicles for the 2017 model year. Over time, the features are expected to trickle into other GM brands.
“Everyone recognizes that when cars can talk to each other and share information about speed, direction, operating performance and more, we'll save lives, save time and save money as well,” said Mary Barra, GM’s chief executive.
The semi-automated mode would keep the car it in its lane, make steering adjustments where necessary, and trigger the brake and gas pedals to ensure there is a safe distance between other cars.
“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 said. “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.”
According to the LA Times, other automakers like Nissan and Mercedes-Benz are developing similar features, but it is unclear how consumers will take to the new technology and how insurance companies will deal with such cars.
“The next big challenge on the road to fully automated driving is to tackle the urban environment, where you have to dodge everything from jaywalkers and bike messengers to double-parked delivery trucks,” Barra said.
She added that commercializing fully automated vehicles likely won't happen until the next decade. However, what carmakers are doing now is laying the ground work for robotic vehicles.
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