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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.”

Editorial: Evil finds a new face

Another extremist group has surfaced from the cauldron of the Middle East, a ruthless locust horde that leaves death and destruction in its wake.

If Americans and other Westerners find the militants under the Islamic State of Syria and Iraq to be the latest personification of modern-day evil, they’re not wrong. Their blood lust, which has resulted in the executions of those getting in their way — soldiers, civilians and journalist James Foley — is not quickly understood, even if such cruelty is a dark part of human existence.

What image is conjured up by these jihadists?

How about that of a Khmer Rouge in the Middle East?

As the Cambodia Tribunal Monitor states on its website, “... (the Khmer Rouge) set up policies that disregarded human life and produced repression and massacres on a massive scale. They turned the country into a huge detention center, which later became a graveyard for nearly two million people, including their own members ...”

It’s clear that the alarm is being sounded in the West. As the France’s Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said recently, “... this terrorist group is of a different nature and level of danger than others. As surreal as it may seem, this group considers al-Qaida too soft.”

One question that has yet to be answered: whether the nations of the region share not only the West’s revulsion to these jihadists, but see them as the immediate threat they are. If so, it will have to be those countries, whether they be monarchies, dictatorships, theocracies, emerging democracies or some unsteady combination of government rule, that provide the key to repelling the advances the so-called Islamic State has made into the vacuum left by the political turmoil that has engulfed Syria and Iraq.

The threat posed must also be realized — and countered — by Muslim organizations in the region. Whatever their feelings might be about Western culture or other religions, they must see that what these extremists are practicing is a perversion of their faith used as a means to justify the committing of atrocities.

We’ve seen the first stirring of that reaction in recent statements by Iyad Ameen Madani, secretary general for the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, a group representing 57 countries, and 1.4 billion Muslims. He denounced the “forced deportation under the threat of execution” of Christians, calling it a “crime that cannot be tolerated.” He also distanced Islam from ISIS, saying they “have nothing to do with Islam and its principles that call for justice, kindness, fairness, freedom of faith and coexistence.”

It is, as Blaise Pascal wrote in 1670, a fact that, “Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction.”

As crazy as it sounds, many in the Muslim world believe that ISIS was created by the United States and Israel. For real.

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