One of the most topical discussions in the automotive industry is autonomous driving and many new players are moving into this space.
Companies like Google, Apple, and Uber, among others, are jumping onboard the autonomous technology train. “I believe these are just the early winds of change and we will see many more players stepping forward, said Geof Bailey, Director, Vehicle Safety, Emissions and Product Programs, GM of Canada.
Bailey was speaking at the Canadian Association of Road Safety Professionals (CARSP) at the annual conference held a that Delta Chelsea Hotel in Toronto, June 18-21.
“Some have called it the fourth industrial revolution, others are calling it the Internet of Everything. At GM we look to the future, and we see an auto sector that is electric, connected, autonomous, and part of the sharing economy,” continued Bailey.
Vehicle connectivity is also about entertainment, productivity, and taking the internet with you wherever you go.
“The most profound trend changing our industry is the arrival of autonomous driving. Ultimately, autonomous vehicles will change the fundamental way drivers interact or don’t interact with their car.
“Arguably, the transition period with human drivers and autonomous vehicles on the road will be more difficult than the end goal of a fully autonomous state. However, even in the short term, autonomous vehicles will be safer,” explained Bailey
GM is testing autonomous vehicles on roads in California and Nevada along with many other manufacturers. “We are doing this with the goal of ensuring that autonomous driving is introduced safely. Autonomous is a journey. You cannot just jump into a fully autonomous vehicle or a fully autonomous state. Technology is introduced through time as the technology, and the product becomes more automated,” added Bailey.
GM is introducing the all-new Super Cruise Cadillac CT6 this fall which will feature hands-free driving.
“We are doing this in a safe, progressive manner. It will be hands-free driving on a divided highway,” explained Bailey.
“In our case, we felt it was important to monitor the driver, so we have an infrared camera mounted to the steering column which monitors and makes sure the driver is paying attention. If he isn’t paying attention over a number of seconds, the vehicle will do an escalation process which will slowly bring it out of autonomous and get the driver back in control and force him to take control. This is a necessary step for not only developing the technology, but it’s also a step for acceptance by the public,” explained Bailey.
Overall, safety is seen as the number one benefit of autonomous technology. Some 1.2 million deaths occur each year world-wide. In North America, we see about 35,000 deaths, and of these, it is estimated that 94 per cent of those deaths are due to driver error. Autonomous vehicles do not get fatigued, do not speed and with V2V communication, will be able to respond quickly to any situation happening several cars ahead.