Carmakers are determined to put us, drivers, out of the equation of…actually driving their vehicles. Not forgetting Google’s intensive lobbying, after VW and BMW, General Motors is the latest company to join the ranks of the autonomous vehicle pioneers.
Alan Taub, GM’s vice president of global Research and Development, says that by 2015 cars that will be partially able to drive themselves, while by the end of the decade, more sophisticated system will enable them to be fully autonomous.
“The technologies we’re developing will provide an added convenience by partially or completely taking over the driving duties”, Taub said during the Intelligent Transport Systems World Congress in Orlando last Sunday.
General Motors is already using advanced systems like sensors, radars, GPS and cameras that supply information to both the driver and the car’s computer system. “Intelligent” maps will allow the computer to take over, while the driver becomes just another passenger.
Taub stressed that safety is the primary motive driving (pun intended…) the development of these technologies: “Future generation safety systems will eliminate the crash altogether by interceding on behalf of drivers before they’re even aware of a hazardous situation.”
GM has been exploring self-driving vehicles since 2007 when it developed in collaboration with Carnegie Mellon University, an autonomous Chevrolet Tahoe that won the DARPA Urban Challenge, a 60-mile test involving merging in traffic, overtaking, parking and negotiating intersections.
So, ladies and gentlemen, fasten up your seatbelts ‘cause very soon you will literally be taken for a ride. You’d better snag that Camaro ZL1 and enjoy it while you can: driving pleasure may become a thing of the past if some bright minds get their way.