Mary Barra thinks GM is a leader in autonomous tech

Saying General Motors is "among the leaders" in autonomous vehicle technology, CEO Mary Barra rapped about her company's driverless work in an interview with USA Today. Barra covered a number of topics, including well-known efforts, like Cadillac's upcoming Super Cruise technology, as well as hinting at "a lot of efforts that are confidential."

"Things are moving quickly in autonomous [cars] because there's so many different pathways and the standards aren't even set. A lot of people can claim leads because people are making advancements in different areas," Barra said. "Next year we're going to have Super Cruise on one of our Cadillacs. On highways you'll be able to take your hands off the wheel and feet off the pedals – with a very creative way to make sure the driver is alert and involved in the driving process."

As for those "confidential" efforts, feel free to speculate. GM has recently confirmed that it'd be running autonomous Volts at its Warren, MI tech center, which certainly indicates that the company is playing with much more than Super Cruise. GM will need to continue to embrace autonomous driving, owing to both traditional competitors like Toyota, as well as non-traditional opposition, like Google and Apple.

Speaking of its competition from Silicon Valley, Barra was asked about two of the region's biggest names – Apple's Tim Cook and Tesla boss Elon Musk.

"I have tremendous respect for Tim Cook, and I don't really think he needs advice from me," Barra told USA Today with a laugh. And when asked about Apple's future as a "viable competitor," she said, "I have no insights other than what I read in the papers. But it would be foolish for me not to assume that they're going to."

As for Mr. Musk's openness about future products and how it contrasts with GM's relatively closed attitude, Barra also gave a chuckle.

"I'm sure you would like me to say yes. I think we're fundamentally different. Look at our volume and look at the segments where we compete. His product line – his two products – his scale, it's completely different."

The rest of Barra's interview is certainly worth a read, and includes talk about the Volkswagen diesel scandal, GM's changed relationship with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and Uber. Head over to The Detroit Free Press website for the full story from USA Today.

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