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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.”

Mahar roars back to shock Lee, 3-2

ORANGE — Down 7-0 in the pivotal fifth-set, the chances of Mahar Regional School reaching the finals of the WMass Division III Girls’ Volleyball championship did not look good.

The Senators rallied to tie the score at 10 and then completed the comeback by taking five of the next eight points to hand Lee High School its first loss of the season 25-23, 17-25, 25-22, 8-25, 15-13, in semi-final play at the Grzesik-Bixby Gymnasium Thursday evening.

“That was the most nerve-racking last set I’ve ever had as a coach,” said Mahar coach Sarah Woodward, “We did not play well tonight but the team played well enough when we were behind and, luckily, we came out with the victory,” Woodward said as her team celebrated behind her.

Lee jumped out to the 7-0 lead with Lauren Richardson serving to start the decisive set. Richardson registered one ace in the seven-point streak, and got help in the form of two kills from Courtney Picard, and single kills from Katie Morin and Vanessa Castillo.

Allie Barnes finally got the Senators on the board in the fifth set when she registered a kill and then took over serve, winning three points to cut the deficit to 7-4. The two teams traded points to get Lee to a 10-6 lead, but Sabrina Silva recorded a kill and took over serving herself, scoring three more points to tie the score at 10-10. Later, with the score tied 13-13, Katherine Donelan scorched an ace to give the Senators a 14-13 lead, and the home team punched its ticket on the next point when Jessica Lloyd picked up a rare block.

“That was the first block of her career there,” Woodward said. “We can come back and win when we want to.”

The second-seeded Senators (15-5) came out sharp and controlled much of the first set. After the third-seeded Wildcats (20-1) rallied to tie the score at 22-22, Silva took over for the Senators. The senior belted back-to-back kills and Lee pushed a service into the net giving Mahar the first-set victory. Lee came out and battled in the second set, showing why they had been previously unbeaten. With the score at 16-14, the Wildcats ripped off seven straight points to take the second set 25-17, tying the match at one apiece overall.

Lee brought the momentum from the second set into the third, when the Wildcats jumped out to an 18-12 lead midway through the third set. It did not look good for the Senators, who were outplayed for most of the third set. However, down six points with Mahar gaining serve, Donelan served up four straight points to pull Mahar within two at 18-16. After Lee gained a point on a service error, Silva registered five straight kills to pull Mahar ahead for good. The Senators completed the comeback and took the third set, 25-22.

Mahar could not take the momentum from the third set into the fourth, as Lee was able to jump out to an 11-0 lead before the Senators could register their first point. The Wildcats scored 12 of the next 14 points to take the fourth set by a score of 25-8 and force the deciding fifth game.

Silva finished with 22 kills while Caitriona Cronin recorded 23 digs. Also playing well for Mahar was Sam Pierson, a senior who chipped in 19 assists, and senior captain Barnes, who came in with six kills.

Mahar will face off against the No. 1 seeded and perennial powerhouse Frontier Regional School Saturday at 4 p.m. at Holyoke Community College with the WMass volleyball title on the line.

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