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Cadillac Announces New Vibrating Seat Safety Feature

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Cadillac Safety Alert SeatCadillac is coming out with a new safety feature in which a vibrating seat cushion alerts the driver when there is an impending collision. The feature, an industry first, was announced on Tuesday. It will appear in the 2013 Cadillac XTS luxury sedan, to go into production this spring, as Joseph Szczesny reports for The Bottom Line on, in the article, “New Cadillac safety feature will have your butt buzzing.”

Paul Stenquist writes in The New York Times that the vibrations occur on the left or right side of the seat to warn the driver of a potentially dangerous situation on the corresponding side of the car, although the vibrations are not limited to only one side or the other:

Simultaneous vibration[s] on the left and right warn of threats detected at the front or rear of the vehicle. Situations that might trigger the warning include drifting out of a lane toward another vehicle or failing to notice a rear or forward object when parking. Other visual alerts will reinforce the warnings.

Stenquist reports that Raymond Kiefer, an active safety technical fellow for General Motors, compared the sensation created by the “Safety Alert Seat” to the feeling of someone tapping on your shoulder to get your attention. Drivers can opt for the vibration as a selectable feature through Cadillac’s new telematics system called CUE, or for audible alerts if they find the vibrations unpleasant.

“Vibrating alerts may also help drivers who do not hear beeping alerts because of hearing loss or competing noises,” Kiefer said. The alerts may also be preferred by drivers who shut crash avoidance features off because they don’t like beeping sounds.

Adrian Lund, president of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, said, “We commend GM for their innovative use of haptic feedback and hope that drivers find it helpful.”

The vibrating driver’s seat is part of the Cadillac Driver Awareness and Driver Assist packages, several active safety systems packaged together to help drivers avoid car accidents. The Driver Awareness Package, available at the launch of the Cadillac XTS this spring, includes forward collision alert, lane departure warning, side blind zone alert, and rear cross traffic alert. The Driver Assist Package, to be available in the fall, adds adaptive cruise control, automatic collision preparation, and front and rear automatic braking systems.

Stenquist writes that although Cadillac hasn’t priced the new safety options yet, Don Butler, general manager of Cadillac marketing, said they will be packaged with Cadillac’s new CUE system and an updated navigation system that is required to make the safety systems work. In addition to being available in Cadillac’s full-size luxury sedan, the safety packages will also be available later this year in the new Cadillac ATS sedan and revised SRX crossover.

In a article, “Cadillac’s New Crash Warning System: Your Butt,” Mark Hachman quotes Kiefer as saying: “We feel customers will appreciate the intuitive elegance of the Safety Alert Seat, and more importantly, will appreciate the ‘good vibrations’ afforded by the features linked to this seat.”

You can see a video of the vibrating seat technology here:

Image by General Motors, used under Fair Use: Reporting.


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