Though driverless cars are making plenty of inroads, it may be awhile yet before people are willing to hand over the keys and let their cars take over entirely. But a few autonomous functions may make the transition smoother. Cadillac is testing lane-detection and automatic braking technology for use on highways, according to General Motors.
This feature, called "Super Cruise," could be available within a couple years. Model year 2013 Cadillac ATS and XTS sedans already have a new package called Driver Assist, which uses an array of sensors to detect forward and rear obstacles and potentially avert crashes. The cars have lane departure warnings, a head-up display, blind zone alerts, automatic braking capability and more, Cadillac says.
Much of this technology forms the basis for Super Cruise, which basically gives the car more responsibility. Moving from simple lane-drift warnings to self-adjusting lane centering tech is the next step, Cadillac says. Future models will have cameras to detect lane markings - which must be pretty bright and distinctive to work - and GPS data to detect and prepare for road curves and obstacles. It may not work when it's raining or when lane markers are unclear, however.
Combined with the self-centering lane tech and automatic braking, highway commutes could be entirely car-operated. The technology would "lighten the driver's workload," as GM put it in a news release. Personally, I don't consider driving to be a lot of work - I kind of enjoy it - but maybe the typical luxury-car-buyer would find it a plebeian chore.
As we've seen before, Cadillac is not the first luxury carmaker to adopt this technology - Mercedes is using cameras, radar and other sensors on some of its vehicles. GM says the highway-driving cars could be available by mid-decade.