DETROIT, Mich. – Driverless cars may hit the market sooner than thought. General Motors CEO Mary Barra announced GM’s plan to release a car with technology to drive itself by 2017.
While speaking at the Intelligent Transport System World Congress in Detroit, Barra announced that the 2017 Cadillac model will be equipped with “super cruise” technology that will let it drive itself.
According to GM, the technology will use radar and cameras to steer the car, keep it between lanes, and brake to a full stop. The “super cruise” technology will also be able to handle speeds of up to 70 miles per hour and stop-and-go traffic.
But a year before this, Barra said GM will unveil another Cadillac with vehicle-to-vehicle technology that shares information with other cars and traffic infrastructure. This is technology FOX 17 explored last winter, which is being widely tested at the University of Michigan.
“By and large we don't see being able to make it to automated vehicles, at least not driverless vehicles, high levels of automation, without also having this communication element,” said Jim Sayer, research scientist with the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI). “The communication really serves as the foundation for the future of automated vehicles."
Sayer told FOX 17 that the University’s Safety Pilot Model Deployment program is the biggest group of “connected” vehicles in the world.
Data collected goes to the U.S. Department of Transportation to show how automated technology could reduce fatal car accidents and energy consumption.
"One of our goals is to drive fatality rates down to zero,” said Kirk Steudle, Michigan Department of Transportation Director. “Last year there were over 900 people killed on Michigan roadways. If we can get cars that refuse to crash, we can save those 900 people.”
Then if driverless cars prove to be safer, some officials believe fewer wrecks could mean cheaper insurance.
"We've never seen insurance rates go down, but this would be a good reason for them to go down, if you can pretty well assure people that your car is not going to get into an accident,” said Senator Mike Kowall, (R) 15th District.