MILFORD, Michigan –
Although we're not quite at the stage where machines have become, as in the Terminator movies, sentient beings ready to take over the world – the recent integration of systems has given vehicles an almost uncanny sensory awareness.
Cadillac will introduce a suite of new safety technology with the debut of the 2013 XTS
that will make it the most technologically advanced car the company has ever produced. At its heart is "Sensor Fusion," an integration of radar, cameras and sensors that provide 360 degrees of input to the vehicle's central processing unit – virtually giving it an awareness of its surroundings.
|Photo: General Motors
Alan Taub, GM VP of Global Research and Development, says that up until the last decade, technology has been focused on "protecting occupants because vehicles will crash. Now, we're in an era where we can prevent crashes, alert drivers, assist drivers and even take over if an accident is imminent."
The technology will be available in two packages. The first level is the Driver Awareness package (available this spring) that provides a variety of alerts: Lane Departure, Forward Collision Alert, Rear Cross Traffic Alter and Side Blind Zone Alert.
The Driver Assist Package (available this fall), goes one step further by taking evasive action and adjusting speed and braking. Its integration of positioning and sensor technology is a major building block in the realization of semi and even fully autonomous driving.
We were able to experience the new technology first-hand at GM's Milford Proving Grounds near Detroit, Michigan.
We begin with a simple exercise designed to simulate backing out of a parking spot and encountering rear cross traffic.
Rather than using beeps– which not only become annoying to passengers but can eventually be tuned out by the driver – Cadillac has devised a patented Safety Alert Seat system
that generates vibrating pulses from the seat bottom. A vibrating alert will be particularly advantageous to drivers with hearing loss – or even those who've become so annoyed by the beeping they may even shut off the warning system.
The eight-inch LCD screen relays parking guides to the driver while backing up, and if the driver fails to see an obstacle in his path, he's alerted by pulsing on both sides of the seat bottom. Approaching traffic triggers the Rear Cross Traffic alert to let the driver know with vibrations from either the left or right seat bolster depending on the direction of the approaching car.
|Photo: General Motors