We’ve talked before about the strides GM is taking toward making self-driven cars a reality. One of the key issues GM is looking at in relation to this is how driver behavior would change in a self-driving vehicle, which could be available by 2015.
GM and its research partners conducted a study of how non-driving activities influence driver behavior in self-steering, semi-autonomous vehicles. One key finding is that driver attentiveness is improved through advanced driver assistance and safety features.
Since drivers are already engaging in risky behaviors like texting while driving, and are likely to continue doing so given the availability of smartphones and other portable electronic devices, why not make it safer for them and the people around them? “Offering some form of vehicle automation with the proper safeguards might be better than what is happening on our roads today,” said Dr. Eddy Llaneras, principal investigator at Virginia Tech Transportation Institute.
According to the AAA Foundations’ 2011 Traffic Safety Culture Index, more than one in three drivers surveyed admitted to texting or emailing while driving, despite the fact that the majority of them agreed that these types of activities are unacceptable.
The GM study looked at the demands on the driver’s visual attention in hands-on steering and automated steering. Both situations were with full-speed range adaptive cruise control engaged. The studies took place in a driving simulator at Indiana University-Purdue University in Indianapolis and with VTTI on a GM test track in Michigan.
When engaged in non-driving activities, drivers split their visual attention between the road and secondary tasks by making relatively frequent, but brief off-road glances. The study also showed that advanced driver monitoring and assistance features, such as Forward Collision alert, increases drivers’ focus on the road by 126 percent when automated steering is in operation.
The Driver Assist Package that will be available in November on the 2013 Cadillac XTS and ATS sedans is the basis for these futuristic systems. The package includes full-speed range adaptive cruise control and automatic emergency braking, which are designed to help prevent crashes caused by human error.
GM and its partners are still studying the effectiveness of the driver monitoring systems, how drivers interact with their vehicles, and other active safety technologies that are the key to the production of autonomous vehicles. These technologies are expected to ease drivers’ workload when traffic and road conditions allow, but they are not intended to allow drivers to completely “tune out”.
Until self-driven cars are available, you can see these safety features on the 2013 Cadillac XTS and ATS, which will hit Crossroads’ lot in November. If you are technology junkie or you just want to have the best safety features available in the luxury sedan, check them out and get a glimpse of the future.