Autonomous driving is no longer the stuff of fiction and, bit by bit, we’re getting closer to seeing fully-autonomous vehicles on tomorrow’s highways.
Various automakers, universities, and even technology companies are working on vehicles with autonomous driving modes. Nissan, for example, is currently testing a Nissan Leaf with a new Advanced Driver Assistance System [ADSS]. Nissan ADSS will test some autonomous driving systems, including lane keeping, lane changing, and even overtaking, with the aim of having a fully-autonomous vehicle on the road by 2020. Also, decidedly non-automotive company, Google, is working on autonomous driving, featuring a modified Lexus RX400h hybrid vehicle.
General Motors isn’t to be left out though, and is being featured in the November 2013 issue of Popular Mechanics. General Motors Super Cruise, honored in the 2013 Popular Mechanics Breakthrough Awards, is an autonomous driving feature that could find its way into production Cadillac vehicles by 2018. Super Cruise uses radar, global positioning, and infrared cameras, to reduce the mental load on the driver. At highway speeds, under certain conditions, Super Cruise can maintain position in the center of the lane, as well as monitor traffic ahead to maintain safe following distance. If traffic ahead slows down, due to congestion, Super Cruise can slow down, using the brakes if necessary. Once traffic clears, the system speeds up again.
In General Motors Super Cruise, the driver is still in control of the vehicle, so it’s not a fully-autonomous driving experience, but should be effective in reducing accidents on the highway, due to distractions, fatigue, and changing traffic conditions. Autonomous vehicles have the promise, especially if they were universally adopted, to increase highway safety, as well as reduce congestion, travel times, and even emissions.
Image © Popular Mechanics