Hands Free, Eyes On: General Motors University Is In Session
Today, General Motors unveiled the beginnings of a new consumer education campaign surrounding advanced driving systems. Titled “Hands Free, Eyes On,” the movement is an effort to ensure consumers and drivers know exactly what their vehicles are and will someday be capable of.
The eventual goal is, of course, zero crashes, so along with implementing advanced driving technologies such as hands-free driving, GM is educating the public about what all of the various active-safety features, from lane-keeping assistance to adaptive cruise control all the way to hands-off driving. The campaign will live on GM.com, as well as a number of social media channels, and will evolve over time as technologies find their way into dealerships.
Of course, GM has been a leader in hands-free driving since the release of Super Cruise in 2017, with over 76,000 Super Cruise-enabled vehicles in the hands (or, really, out of the hands) of consumers since that time. Over 400,000 miles of roads have been opened up to hands-free driving via Super Cruise, up from 250,000 miles a year ago. GM has a goal, according to Andrew Farah, executive director for ADAS for GM, of 95 percent of all driving being hands-off capable, though he notes that among other challenges, roundabouts are particularly tricky for the ‘bots to manage. Call it morning driving through the sound and in and out the valley, but while divided highways have been relatively easy to map, ensuring safe deployment of these autonomous driving features requires plenty of testing, computing technologies, and sensor abilities.
The Hands Free, Eyes On campaign is currently focused on the Super Cruise system available today, where GM reiterates four keys to using the Level Two system:
- Stay alert
- Always be ready to take control
- Focus on the road
- Enjoy the ride
The driver awareness monitoring sensors, especially, are critical as keeping the driver in the loop at all times will remain a big part of both Super Cruise and the coming Ultra Cruise, which promises a more door-to-door driving experience, including parking and driving on urban roadways. Ultra Cruise will remain what the industry deems a Level Two of vehicle autonomy since the driver is still in control, but over two million miles of roadway between the U.S. and Canada are targeted for Ultra Cruise compatibility when it debuts on the Cadillac CELESTIQ, coming as soon as 2024.
Level Two systems ensure the driver is still in charge, though Farah reminds us that “some other people aren’t as clear on this point,” a barb likely targeted toward Elon Musk and Tesla. While GM’s spokespeople don’t know of any consumer safety incidents regarding Super Cruise, Farah reminds us that “nothing is foolproof to a sufficiently-talented fool.”
Thus nothing currently at retail is truly autonomous, and likely will not be for some time. That's the primary reason for the education campaign - to remind owners to be vigilant behind the wheel, no matter what advanced driving features the car has.
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