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.”

Editorial: Not buying Ryan’s budget

What does it say that Rep. Paul Ryan, the budget guru for the Republican-controlled U.S. House, keeps trying to sell the nation on a spending plan that would leave many Americans — too many Americans — out in the cold?

Is he a principled fiscal conservative with a honest concern for the country’s financial future? Or is he a combination of the worst parts of the Scrooges, be they Ebenezer or McDuck, whose love of money blinds them to misery and need?

Perhaps he’s just the most prominent disciple of an economic theory that espouses the principle that you can cut yourself to prosperity.

Whatever else the congressman from Wisconsin may be, one thing for sure is that he’s wrong.

Ryan’s 2015 budget proposal seeks to reduce the amount of money the federal government allocates to the programs and services that make up the nation’s safety net. Wade into details of what Ryan wants and you will find cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps and a host of other programs that can make the difference between survival and misery.

His “plan” would also repeal the federal health coverage effort that has become known as Obamacare, despite the fact that every reputable statistic shows that it’s meeting its goals and making a real difference in millions of Americans’ lives.

But Ryan’s tinkering doesn’t end with cuts. For example, he wants to turn the federal program that guarantees health coverage for seniors and Americans with disabilities — Medicare — into a voucher system. Other programs would be turned into block grants that would be handed to the states to administer.

Ryan also seeks significant spending reductions for college loan programs and transportation.

And while Ryan isn’t trying to privatize Social Security — a plan he has espoused in the past — he nevertheless opts for cuts.

The big picture here is that Ryan’s plan would slash nondefense spending to $791 billion — less than the levels set by the 2011 Budget Control Act — over a 10-year period.

Continuing his theme, Ryan wants to reduce the corporate tax rate to 25 percent, because this, in his view, would be the boost to the economy that will lift all Americans.

Ryan’s new budget plan isn’t much different from what he has previously proposed, in that the poor, disadvantaged and middle class would bear the brunt of any cuts. As Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md — the ranking Democrat on the budget committee — put it, “Budgets are about choices, and if you look at the Republican budget, it chooses to rig the rules of the game in the favor of the very wealthy.”

What this says about Ryan is that he’s again trying to put lipstick on a pig — an ugly, elitist swine.

We’re not about to buy it.

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