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General Motors, the largest U.S. automaker, will introduce a Cadillac model in two years that can be driven on the highway without the driver holding the steering wheel or putting a foot on a pedal.

The 2017 Cadillac model will feature “Super Cruise” technology that takes control of steering, acceleration and braking at highway speeds of 70 miles per hour or in stop-and-go congested traffic, Chief Executive Officer Mary Barra said yesterday in a speech at the Intelligent Transport System World Congress in Detroit. GM declined to release the name of the model that will carry the feature.

Barra also said GM in two years will become the first automaker to equip a model with so-called vehicle-to-vehicle technology that enables the car to communicate with other autos with similar abilities to warn of traffic hazards and improve road safety. GM will make the V2V feature standard on its 2017 Cadillac CTS sedan, debuting in the second half of 2016, she said. The Super Cruise feature will be on a different Cadillac model and goes beyond similar technology available on some Mercedes-Benz models that operates only at low speeds.

“With Super Cruise, when there’s a congestion alert on roads like California’s Santa Monica Freeway, you can let the car take over and drive hands free and feet free through the worst stop-and-go traffic around,” Barra said in the speech at Cobo Center in Detroit. “If the mood strikes you on the high-speed road from Barstow, California, to Las Vegas, you can take a break from the wheel and pedals and let the car do the work. Having it done for you – that’s true luxury.”

The technology will be included in “an all-new Cadillac that’s going to enter a segment where we don’t compete today,” Barra said.

Automakers around the globe are racing to develop self- driving cars to solve the growing problem of global gridlock and help reduce traffic fatalities. There are now more than 1.1 billion vehicles on the road worldwide, Jon Lauckner, GM’s chief technology officer, told reporters in Detroit yesterday. A recent National Highway Traffic Safety Administration study estimated the economic and societal impact of car crashes in the U.S. is more than $870 billion a year, GM said in a statement.

GM’s Super Cruise technology is not a self-driving car and the feature will require drivers to remain alert and ready to take the wheel if traffic conditions become too complex, Lauckner told reporters at a briefing before Barra’s speech.

“We’re rolling out active safety technology today. We’re not going to wait until we have a driverless vehicle that can work in 100 percent of situations,” Lauckner said. “There’s a lot that can be done before we get to the perfect driverless technology.”

Automakers including Hyundai and Honda’s Acura luxury line offer such safety features as automatic braking and cruise control that adapts to the speed of cars ahead. GM said in a statement that its “hands-off” system is a “new type of driving experience.”

GM said it’s also joining with Ford, the University of Michigan and the Michigan Department of Transportation to create 120 miles of so-called intelligent highways around Detroit. The roads will be equipped with sensors and cameras that enable roads to communicate with cars to alert drivers to hazards and congestion. The technology, to be deployed along stretches of Detroit’s busiest freeways, will monitor vehicle speed and position, though that information will be anonymous and police won’t use it to ticket drivers, Lauckner said.

The Michigan Department of Transportation said it “will be the largest deployment of connected vehicle and highway technology in the world.” MDOT didn’t say when the intelligent highway technology will be deployed. Detroit-based GM won’t be paying for the highway technology, Lauckner said.

GM is working with NHTSA, the federal highway safety regulators, to develop vehicle-to-vehicle communication protocols. NHTSA also is the agency that has overseen GM’s record 29 million vehicle recalls this year, including one for faulty ignition switches in small cars that have been linked to at least 13 deaths.

Vehicle-to-vehicle communication enables cars to warn each other of autos hitting the brakes ahead, road hazards, traffic jams and closed roads, GM said. The goal is to make traffic move more smoothly and safely, Barra said.

Barra called on other automakers to put cars on the road that can talk to each other.

“I am asking all of you to accelerate your work in the field as well,” Barra said. “Let’s strive to build cars and trucks that don’t crash. Let’s connect our vehicles.”

Unless another automaker fields a car with V2V technology before GM in two years, the 2017 Cadillac CTS will only be able to communicate with other like models on the road, GM said.

“It’s a chicken-and-egg technology,” John Capp, GM’s director of global safety strategies and vehicle programs, told reporters at the briefing. “If nobody in two years from now puts out a V2V car, then the first CTS off the line will have to wait for the next CTS to talk to.”


Neighbors: A healthy, joyous New Year to all

Hello neighbor.

The next time we meet it will be 2014. I wish you all a healthy and joyous new year.

I had several people contact me to tell me about their resolutions for 2014. Some were the typical: lose weight, find a new job, stop drinking, etc.

Our neighbor Claire Heath, who lives at Elm Terrace in Greenfield, has a different take. She called me the other day to tell me she is going to “stop refusing joy.”

She said she, like so many of the rest of us, has a tendency to feel responsible for all that happens around her and to others. She said she feels guilty when she feels too much joy, while others are suffering.

That’s not the point, though, is it?

It is so true that we can only make others happy if we ourselves are happy.

Being a good neighbor means stepping in and lending a helping hand whenever possible, not relinquishing our own joy or happiness. I don’t think anyone, even those struggling, want any of us to do so.

So, accept the happiness that comes into your life this coming year. Savor each happy moment, believe that you deserve it and then share it with others.

All we can do is be the best that we can be.

Happy New Year!

IF YOU’RE LOOKING FOR SOMETHING to do locally on New Year’s Eve, head to Orange for the 18th annual Starry Starry Night. There will be musicians, including the Amandla Chorus, Pat & Tex LaMountain, Charles Neville & Sons and Fire Pond, juggler Henry Lappen, comedian Steve Bjork, magician Ed the Wizard, hayrides, ice sculptures, a large, life-size puppet parade and fireworks. The fun begins at 6 p.m. Starry Starry Night is free and open to the public.

For more information, visit: www.starrystarrynight.org.

ST. VALENTINE’S POLISH NATIONAL CATHOLIC CHURCH in Northampton will be holding a Polski Koledy, or Polish Christmas Carol Sing-along on Sunday at 2 p.m. at 127 King St.

Our neighbors Marcy and Barbara Hoynoski said all friends of Polonia are invited to attend — and refreshments will follow the sing-along in the Parish Hall. Yum!

ALSO ON SUNDAY, our neighbor Rosemary Christoph of Shelburne Falls will talk about “Exploring Essence and Personality” at Green River Yoga and Movement Arts at 158 Main St. in Greenfield. The talk will be from 5 to 6:30 p.m. The talk is free, but contributions are appreciated ($5 to $10).

IT’S THAT TIME AGAIN — Reading Aloud for Grown-ups is coming back for its seventh year at the New Salem Library. The event is sponsored by Friends of the Library and each evening between January and April, two readers share their short stories.

I’ve been to a couple and I can tell you that it really is a perfect way to spend a cold winter evening.

Admission is free, although donations are accepted and scrumptious refreshments are sold (coffee is free).

All proceeds benefit the Friends and are used to supplement library materials and programs.

This year, Tony Palmieri and Jane McKay will read on Jan. 8 at 7:30 p.m. in the library, with Dee Waterman and Ed Golden to follow on Feb. 12 at 7:30.

Daren Idoine and Penny Kines will read on March 12 and Linda Overing and Hugh McKay will read April 9.

DID YOU KNOW that six Franklin County towns made Boston.com’s list of the “Top 25 Places to Live in Massachusetts?” Boston.com used its Dream Town Finder, which looks at schools, people, location and the fun factor of towns throughout the state.

Those that made the list are: Shelburne (5), Leverett (11), Rowe (17), Greenfield (20), Northfield (21) and Gill (25). Congratulations to all!

GREENFIELD MIDDLE SCHOOL STUDENTS recently don ated 590 pounds of nonperishable food to Community Action’s Center for Self Reliance. The winter food drive, which ran from Dec. 1 to Dec. 18, will help local families through the winter break.

Good job!

IF YOU’D LIKE TO START THE YEAR volunteering, join the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program of Hampshire and Franklin counties.

I’m told you can do what you love and help others at the same time. Some of the opportunities include being a Meals on Wheels driver, being a meal site helper, tutoring in a local school and being an exercise leader.

You will get training and support.

For more information, contact Pat Sicard, volunteer coordinator, at 413-584-1300 ext. 183 or email her at: psicard@hampshirecog.org.

THE SCOTTISH RITE MASONS VALLEY of Greenfield told me that members made Santa calls to more than 80 children this year. Each Santa asked children, “How do I guide my sleigh tonight in the fog?”

Besides Rudolph, some of the youngsters suggested using elves this year.

The Masons wish you all a happy season.

To contact Anita Fritz, a staff reporter at The Recorder, send an email to: franklincountyneighbors@gmail.com or call 413-772-0261, ext. 280. You can also reach Anita on Facebook at Anita’s Neighbors. Information to be included in Neighbors may also be sent to: neighbors@recorder.com up to noon two days before you want it to run.

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