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GM to Have Self-Driving Cars by End of Decade

| (Google+)

GM Autonomous DrivingDistracted driving could become a thing of the past in several years, once all vehicles on the road are equipped with the technology that drives cars without the help of the humans riding in them. GM has announced it is working on a partially self-driving car to be in production by the middle of the decade, with fully self-driving cars available by the end of the decade.

“The technologies we’re developing will provide an added convenience by partially or even completely taking over the driving duties,” Alan Taub, vice president of Global Research and Development at General Motors, said recently at the Intelligent Transport Systems World Congress in Orlando, Florida. “The primary goal, though, is safety. Future generation safety systems will eliminate the crash altogether by interceding on behalf of drivers before they’re even aware of a hazardous situation. GM has made a commitment to be at the forefront of this development.”

The technologies Taub was referring to include sensors, radar, portable communication devices, GPS, and cameras that supply critical information to the driver and the vehicle’s computer system. And, when combined with digital maps, these technologies will free up the driver to focus on other things while the car drives itself.

Some of these systems are already in use at GM, including a lane-departure warning system available in the Chevrolet Equinox and GMC Terrain; a side blind-zone alert that is an option on the Cadillac Escalade, GMC Yukon, and Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban; and backup cameras available in many GM vehicles, such as the Equinox and Terrain.

Systems under development at GM will move cars towards autonomous driving. They include what GM calls in a press release “an industry-first” crash avoidance system, available on the 2012 GMC Terrain. It uses a high-resolution camera mounted on the windshield ahead of the rear-view mirror to help drivers avoid front-end and lane-departure crashes. The camera looks for shapes of vehicles and lane markings and alerts the driver when the car is veering out of lane and about possible collisions.

In addition, GM is working on auto safety communications systems that gather information from other vehicles, roads, and traffic signals to warn drivers about possible hazards in the road — such as slow or stalled vehicles, drivers who brake suddenly, slippery conditions, and sharp curves ahead — as well as stop signs and intersections. These systems, which have been on display at the ITS World Congress this week, can be embedded in a vehicle or added as smartphone apps that connect wirelessly to the vehicle.

There is also a GM system in development called the EN-V urban mobility concept, which enables autonomous driving by combining GPS with communication between vehicles, plus distance-sensing technologies. This system makes it possible for the car to detect pedestrians, avoid accidents, park itself, and even drive to pick up the person or people riding in the car via commands from a smartphone.

CarScoop writes:

Carmakers are determined to put us, drivers, out of the equation of… actually driving their vehicles. Not forgetting Google’s intensive lobbying, after VW and BMW, General Motors is the latest company to join the ranks of the autonomous vehicle pioneers. […]

GM has been exploring self-driving vehicles since 2007 when it developed in collaboration with Carnegie Mellon University, an autonomous Chevrolet Tahoe that won the DARPA Urban Challenge, a 60-mile test involving merging in traffic, overtaking, parking and negotiating intersections.

So, ladies and gentlemen, fasten up your seatbelts ‘cause very soon you will literally be taken for a ride. You’d better snag that Camaro ZL1 and enjoy it while you can: driving pleasure may become a thing of the past if some bright minds get their way.

Image by GM, used under Fair Use: Reporting.

 

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