GM says almost-driverless cars coming by 2020

Aug 28, 2013 by Tom Krisher
"Super Cruise"

Sometime before the end of this decade, General Motors will put a car on the road that can almost drive itself.

The automaker says the system, called "Super Cruise," uses radar and cameras to steer the car and keep it between lane lines. Also, the radar keeps the car a safe distance from cars ahead of it, and it will brake to a complete stop if necessary.

GM and other automakers such as Mercedes, BMW and Lexus already offer radar-guided cruise control systems that keep their cars a safe distance from other vehicles and even stop before a crash. They also have systems that warn the driver if they're drifting out of their lane. But until recently, engineers haven't been able to steer with computers, according to GM.

"The steering control is the big additional piece," said John Capp, GM's director of electrical controls and active .

On Wednesday, engineers showed off the system for reporters at the company's testing grounds in Milford, Michigan, north of Detroit. The system adds control of electric power steering to off-the-shelf technology that's now available. Although they still have bugs to work out, a Cadillac SRX SUV equipped with the technology worked very well.

Capp says a lot of development work still needs to be done about , reaction of sensors, visibility of lane lines and how the system will interact with the driver, who still would be in control and can easily override the computer system. He says it's possible GM could sell the system well before the end of the decade. It would debut in Cadillacs, GM's luxury brand, but likely would spread to the rest of the company's lineup.

With the system, people will be able to take their hands off the wheel on a and let the car do the work, he said.

GM is aware that the system could make drivers complacent, turning over control to the car even though the system isn't designed for that, said Charles Green, an engineer who studies with the systems.

So before it gets to market, GM will have a feature that makes sure drivers are paying attention, he said.

"Super Cruise will be designed in a way to help you keep your visual attention on the road ahead," Green said, declining to say just how the system will do that. "The 'how' is something that will become more apparent as we show Super Cruise in its later versions."

Engineers say there are many obstacles to cars that completely drive themselves, including how they react to cars and trucks that don't have the technology. For those reasons, Capp says completely driverless cars are 20 to 30 years away.

The announcements come as race to sell self-driving cars and the latest safety devices so they're seen as technology leaders.

GM's demonstration happened the same day as Honda said it was working on short-range communications technology that would let a car detect a pedestrian with a smartphone. The system could prevent car crashes by warning both the driver and the pedestrian. Honda also says it's working on a system that warns car and truck drivers about motorcycles, even if the driver's view of the motorcycle is obstructed by other vehicles. Both are still in the experimental stage.

On Tuesday, Nissan said it wants to make cars that drive themselves by 2020. The company is working on the system with several universities and has a proving ground for autonomous cars near its headquarters in Japan.

Explore further: Cinema-like environment helps audiences become immersed in movies even when shown on small screens

4.4 /5 (19 votes)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Nissan to have self-driving car on market in 2020

Aug 27, 2013

Motorists could go hands-free, leaving their cars' computer brains fully in charge, as early as 2020, when Nissan says it plans to have a self-driving vehicle ready for the market.

Cadillac testing 'Super Cruise' feature for future cars

Apr 23, 2012

(Phys.org) -- Cadillac is reportedly joining the crowd working on features that it says should reduce car accidents by allowing the car to drive itself under optimal conditions, relieving the driver from fatigue, ...

Five new features that could be on your next car

Jul 05, 2013

Cameras that check around the car for pedestrians. Radar that stops you from drifting out of your lane. An engine able to turn off automatically at traffic lights to conserve fuel.

Automakers embrace high-tech in safety drive

Jan 11, 2012

Automakers displaying the latest technology at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) are relying on sensors, digital cameras and connectivity in a drive towards a common goal -- eliminating accidents.

Recommended for you

AeroMobil 3.0 transforms from car to flying car

3 minutes ago

A flying car is revealed: AeroMobil 3.0 was introduced this week at the Pioneers Festival in Vienna. The current prototype AeroMobil 3.0 incorporates improvements and upgrades to the previous AeroMobil 2.5.

Future air passengers may get unique, windowless view

8 hours ago

A windowless airplane sounds like a claustrophobic nightmare. A windowless airplane with OLED displays, aura-enhanced with subtle cabin lighting from gently glowing walls could be quite something else. Using ...

HaptoMime offers mid-air interaction system (w/ Video)

Oct 29, 2014

HaptoMime gives the word "touchscreen" a new meaning—one that will need to be carefully reworded, as HaptoMime involves a screen that you cannot touch. All the same, it enables interaction with floating ...

User comments : 5

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

ealex
4.7 / 5 (3) Aug 28, 2013
yeah I wouldn't really call that a driverless car. it's a step forward, but a long way from an autonomous vehicle. give me a car that can do a busy roundabout or crossroad on it's own and then we're talking.
fourfreak
2.3 / 5 (6) Aug 29, 2013
7 years! Really! Google already has a completely driverless car. Why should it take 7 years?
QuixoteJ
1 / 5 (1) Aug 29, 2013
Anybody ever fall asleep in a car if you're not driving?
hemitite
2 / 5 (4) Aug 29, 2013
Having recently driven from LA to Ohio, I have seen several cars that appeared to be driverless with a dummy behind the wheel. Perhaps we are witnessing the test phase...
Lischyn
1 / 5 (2) Sep 28, 2013
Infinity Q50 and Mercedes E already have this in their cars for sale right now. It appears GM is 7 years late.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.