General Motors (GM) is planning to introduce a self driving Cadillac to the market in 2016, according to the company's CEO Mary Barra. She says the car will feature "Super Cruise" a semi-autonomous feature that will let a vehicle handle itself on the freeway.
Barra said this is just one aspect of autonomous vehicle technology which General Motors has been immersed in behind the scenes. Other companies like Telsa Motors, Google, Audi and Mercedes Benz have been taking to the PR highway with their plans for the technology.
Although not revealing target dates for the introduction of self driving technology other than Super Cruise, Barra says, “we’re gonna move aggressively.”
The company’s virtual silence on autonomous technology belies the fact that GM began exploring it nearly ten years ago in a partnership with Carnegie Mellon University.This partnership should see a fleet of self-driving Chevrolet Volts roaming its Detroit campus in 2016. The robo-Volts, will have engineers in them ready to take the wheel in case of problems.
Barra says the center in suburban Detroit has "many of the variables autonomous vehicles would encounter in an urban area" - roundabouts, intersections,cyclists and pedestrians. “We’ll leverage that,” Barra says. "There’s so much you learn by actually doing.”
The center is also headquarters to the U.S's biggest battery lab, where GM tests and develops the lithium-ion batteries that power the Volt. It will also power the Bolt, which the company plans to introduce to the market in 2017. The car will have a battery life of 200 miles.
“You need embedded connectivity to make autonomous work. And that’s where General Motors has a lead.” Barra says adding GM is not going to rely on “the traditional owner-driver model” to keep and grow its market share. She says GM will “absolutely” make cars for an age when human driving is defunct. “We are disrupting ourselves.”