2017 Cadillacs will have automated highway driving features, GM says

Autonomy and tracking nearby cars will improve safety, GM says

General Motors will put a "Super Cruise" feature in 2017 Cadillacs that can perform hands-off lane following, braking and speed control in certain highway driving conditions, the automaker said Monday.

Super Cruise is designed for use both in bumper-to-bumper traffic conditions and on long road trips. Drivers will be able to take their hands off the wheel and their feet off the pedals.

"Rest assured, Super Cruise will keep drivers alert and engaged, and when they want to take control, they're going to find a car that's really fun to drive," GM CEO Mary Barra told a meeting of the Intelligent Transportation Society of America on Sunday in Detroit.

Meanwhile, the 2017 Cadillac CTS will come with vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communications technology. It can exchange data with nearby similarly equipped vehicles concerning their direction, speed and location, warning drivers if they might collide.

GM said V2V can be an additional safety layer on top of forward collision warning systems, which are already deployed in production cars. In 2010, the U.S. Department of Transportation estimated that V2V-style systems could be effective in up to about 80 percent of vehicle crashes.

Vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) technology is also being developed as a way to reduce accidents and congestion on roads. Traffic lights with V2I connections, for instance, would only turn red when needed.

However, a critical mass of connected cars and infrastructure is required to make the systems work well.

"The CTS will talk to other V2V-equipped cars to avoid crashes," Barra said. "It will talk to V2I-equipped infrastructure to reduce congestion and its 4G LTE connection and active safety features will give drivers peace of mind."

GM's announcement adds impetus to carmakers including Volvo and Mercedes to introduce cars with ever more sophisticated automated features, from parking assistance to fully robotic cars that can drive themselves like the ones being developed by Google.

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