General Motors (GM) is working on ways to expand the connectivity it builds into its cars, GM CEO Mary Barra told Reuters. “Our goal is to disrupt ourselves and own the customer relationship beyond the car.”
For example, Barra said, someone who owns a Chevolet Malibu could get into a Cadillac CTS, and that GM luxury car could access information from the Chevy owner’s smartphone that would allow the Caddy to function in ways that the Chevy owner prefers. And from this data transferring ability, it would only be a “hop, skip and a jump” for GM to provide other services such as car-sharing.
In 2016, GM will be launching an autonomous driving feature called SuperCruise, which also will use high-speed data connections in cars, Reuters wrote.
SuperCruise goes beyond such systems as parking assist and lane drift warnings to regulate the car with the help of cameras, according to a CBS Interactive article appearing on CBS News. SuperCruise slows the car down when it gets too close to the vehicle in front of it.
Connectivity and apps will also help GM keep tabs on what customers are doing with their cars and how they are responding to features such as automatic braking or hands-free highway driving, Barra said. Companies such as Apple and Google are pushing to dominate dashboard displays with their software, but ‘we have the platform’ of the vehicle itself, Barra said.
Technology and Traffic
In a related article for The Huffington Post titled: “Technology Might Kill the Idea of Car Ownership — and That’s a Good Thing,” Damon Beres refers to a new report by the McKinsey Center for Business and Environment that addresses ways in technology will change transportation, especially in cities. Urban traffic congestion may be relieved by car-sharing, autonomous vehicles, electrification, and in-vehicle connectivity, Stefan Knupfer, a senior partner at McKinsey, told Beres.
Summed up, technology will make it less necessary to own a car because it’ll be easier to get hooked up with someone else’s ride (think Uber and Zipcar), and new vehicles will be ‘smarter’ and less damaging to the environment.
Individually owned cars spend most of their time idle, parked. For example, Beres asks the reader to imagine a hybrid bus that is able to avoid traffic and pick up passengers on demand, avoiding traffic by accessing real-time travel data. Another scenario has self-driving vehicles replacing taxis.
Self-Driving Cars Behaving Badly?
Knupfer told Beres that self-driving cars will only make sense if they are used responsibly. It would not work if a self-driving car spends all of its time aimlessly driving around after a person has left it to go to work.
It looks like Google is already working on that issue. As Lee Mathews reports in Geek, Google has started teaching its autonomous cars “to behave more like humans.” That means teaching the cars not to be more cautious than most people, Mathews writes. For example, 12 of the 16 car accidents involving Google’s autonomous vehicles were found to be mostly the fault of their human drivers following them. That might be because the Google cars “tend to be overly cautious and can apply the brakes at odd times to avoid perceived risks, and those reactions can catch humans off-guard.”