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.”

McGuane to receive Human Rights awards

GREENFIELD — A little more than a year after former Town Council President Martin A. McGuane died suddenly, Greenfield’s Human Rights Commission is honoring him with its first annual Greenfield Human Rights Award.

The commission will bestow the honor today, according to commission Chairman Lewis Metaxas.

The award was established this year and will be a permanent fixture in Town Hall. It will be issued each year on Human Rights Day, which is celebrated globally every Dec. 10, said Metaxas.

He said that date commemorates the United Nations General Assembly’s adoption and proclamation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Dec. 10, 1948).

Metaxas said McGuane was nominated and cited posthumously for his work in the public arena in helping create the commission, as well as the community outreach he did to help people who needed assistance.

“Mr. McGuane, during his years as a member and officer of the Greenfield Town Council, was a proponent of the bylaw that created the commission,” said Metaxas. “Fifteen years ago, it was not being taken for granted that the town should have a commission dedicated to this concept. There was considerable debate on the issue here, as there was in cities and towns all over the commonwealth.”

He said McGuane’s advocacy came at a “critical time.”

Metaxas said the commission felt McGuane should receive the first award, because he also did a lot of work with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Franklin County in promoting the adult mentoring of children and cooked for the Franklin County Community Meals program. He also worked to expand community access television in the area.

The commission will host a reception in Town Hall on a date to be announced early in 2014. There will be a formal presentation of the award.

McGuane, who died Oct. 9, 2012, following a sudden illness at the age of 55, had also been on the Greenfield School Committee at one time and had served as executive director of the Greenfield and Frontier community cable television stations.

“My passion in life has always been to help people and to effect change,” McGuane told The Recorder in 2010 in announcing his candidacy for the Second Franklin District legislative seat — a campaign he was forced to drop out of five months later.

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