Prepare for a few years of technological saber-rattling, as the world's automakers begin pushing to bring self-driving cars to market. Earlier this week, Nissan announced that it aims to offer autonomous vehicles by 2020, while Google, BMW and several other marks are working on similar efforts.

General Motors is doing things differently, though. Rather than push for a fully autonomous car, it's continuing to refine its semi-autonomous Super Cruise, a product that we tested in April 2012 and that will eventually see use on some Cadillacs before trickling down to the rest of the General Motors family. Super Cruise, which is undergoing testing in the Cadillac SRX, doesn't take complete control out of the driver's hands. Rather, under a very specific set of circumstances on the freeway, it will marry the capabilities of things like lane departure warning and adaptive cruise control to allow the driver to take their hands off the wheel. All of which sounds a lot like the system Mercedes-Benz is launching on the 2014 S-Class.

The system is still in development, according to John Capp, GM's director of electrical controls and active safety technology. Now that that the biggest hurdle, steering control, has been cleared, GM's engineers can focus on things like teaching the system to adapt to differing road conditions and visibility levels. As we reported in 2012, Super Cruise is still befuddled in low-visibility situations or when road markings aren't particularly clear.

And for those who are worried that semi-autonomous cars will lead to drivers treating the cars as fully autonomous (a seriously dangerous situation), GM engineer Charles Green tells USA Today, "Super Cruise will be designed in a way to help keep your visual attention on the road ahead. The 'how' is something that will become more apparent as we show Super Cruise in its later versions."


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  • 49 Comments
      nanuq_ofthenorth
      • 1 Year Ago
      Once these robotic cars are navigating our roads, it won't be long until insurance rates for traditionally driven vehicles will sky rocket with their comparably higher risk of accident due to driver distraction, inattention or inebriation. Governments will likely offer tax incentives to get people out of their older vehicles for this new technology that promises to drastically reduce injuries and fatalities on our roadways. Traditional vehicles will be relegated to rural areas like horses are today, to be used on weekends by those who still enjoy nostalgic rides. The vast majority of people, many of whom don't enjoy driving will welcome the opportunity of more time to check their text messages and facebook account..
        jbrian922
        • 1 Year Ago
        @nanuq_ofthenorth
        I'll NEVER drive anything that has a computer in it!
      Rich
      • 1 Year Ago
      Question.... What happens to our DUI laws when fully-autonomous cars are the norm? Had to many glasses of wine with dinner, hit the program and let the car drive you home! Legal?
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Rich
        [blocked]
          rothhammer1
          • 1 Year Ago
          Or the Autonocar 3000 will sense your level of intoxication (sensors in the cabin air filters got your breath), lock you inside and deliver you to the nearest re-education facility.
        Sir Duke
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Rich
        I bet there will be a way to check on who was really driving, you or the car.
      saxon74a
      • 1 Year Ago
      Interesting! So if any feature of this semi-autonomous vehichle stops functioning properly at just the wrong time and there is an accident, who will be at fault? the driver or the car maker?
      DaveMart
      • 1 Year Ago
      Hardly an ambitious target. Here is a video of a driverless car quite happily driving around Parma, Italy: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=dmD6kqBjnLM
      Alex740
      • 1 Year Ago
      Nissan has announced the same and Volvo claims to have them before 2020. Looks like a lot of consensus from companies that we will have this in 7 years. This will be a world changing technology and it can't come soon enough.
      rothhammer1
      • 1 Year Ago
      Texting and driving isn't bad enough? With these we'll have people just letting their autos run into things on their own.
      wnorris495821
      • 1 Year Ago
      Sitting behind the controls of a fully-automonous car in heavy traffic with alot of traffic lights around would make me nervous. I think cruise control and the automatic changing of gears are automonous enough.
      Doug
      • 1 Year Ago
      Oh, wondeful! We're going to have thousands of 70 yr. old Bluehairs falling asleep at the wheel.
        rjackson2a
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Doug
        I don't think that will be nearly the problem as the young idiots with there texting.
      John Donnery
      • 1 Year Ago
      The new Mercedes S Classis ALREADY semi-autonomous. It can follow the caringront of you using camera and come to a complete stop by itself. You don't need to touch the wheel. Catch up America....
      • 1 Year Ago
      [blocked]
        • 1 Year Ago
        [blocked]
        David MacGillis
        • 1 Year Ago
        Come on, get rid of this stinking pile of human feces.
      CoolWaters
      • 1 Year Ago
      GM is on a roll.
      jbrian922
      • 1 Year Ago
      STUPID! Why do these idiots want to add so much tech to "cars" these days there is no need for it?! That's why I only by old cars! Wait 'til these things with all of this tech get hacked or they cause a big accident.
        rothhammer1
        • 1 Year Ago
        @jbrian922
        A stock Willys Jeep will drive 'fully autonomous' in soft sand. Did it many times in Northern AZ. In compound low (low gear, low range 4WD) it will just idle along with the wheels barely turning. If left alone, it'll find a low spot and chase itself in a circle until it runs out of gas. The axles on the early Jeeps were set up with a lot of caster angle (think shopping cart) so that they could be hitched together like a train and pulled behind a Ma Deuce.
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