WASHINGTON – Driving on the Capital Beltway could soon be old news because new technology lets the car do the driving for you.
Cadillac’s Super Cruise control has now entered real-world testing. It uses a camera, radar and GPS to go far beyond setting a car’s speed.
Once a driver activates the system while driving on a highway, the car automatically stays in the lane, maintains a safe following distance behind any other cars that might move into the lane and keeps the car at the set speed when nothing is in the way.
The processor controls the steering, accelerator and brake and vibrates the driver’s seat to indicate potential problems.
For example, if the highway doesn’t have clear lane markings or bad weather obscures the camera’s view, the seat may vibrate to indicate that the driver should take control.
General Motors calls the technology “semi-autonomous,” adding that when it is rolled out in a few years, drivers will still have to stay alert just in case something unexpected happens on the road.
Up to this point, the technology was tested mostly on test tracks or in simulators. Eventually, GM hopes the Super Cruise will help drivers on highways and in bumper-to-bumper traffic.
Some of the features are already available in isolation for cars on the market, but no similar autopilot is incorporated into cars currently in production.
Google has notably had self-driving cars on the road for hundreds of thousands of miles. Those cars’ computers control driving in all traffic conditions, not just on the highway.