KICK IN THE BUTT—BY A COMPUTER NO LESS

As we know, experts have been predicting autopiloted or even driverless cars for a while now.  Another small step in that direction comes from General Motors with its anticipated debut of Super Cruise in its 2016 Cadillacs.

The Super Cruise system is your cruise control on steroids.  It will take control of speed, brakes, and yes, even the steering.  Through a combination of video cameras, multiple radars, and lots of computer processing power, Super Cruise will drive the car for you.  The system will even track driver behaviors and preferences to inform Super Cruise default settings for inputs such as preferred distances behind cars and lane positioning under various circumstances.

Super Cruise will do quite a bit.  Nevertheless, as we all know, some things just are not handled as well with a computer as with a good old-fashioned flesh-and-blood human being.  For example, what will Super Cruise do when it gets in over its head?  Reporting for Popular Science, Lawrence Ulrich describes the backup option (“Taking the Wheel,” July 2013, p. 29):

And if conditions get too hairy for Super Cruise to handle—say, bad weather—motors in the seat vibrate to tell the driver to take the wheel.

Even Super Cruise understands that sometimes we just need a good kick in the butt!  “Hey, Human—I need your help here or else we’re both going down!”





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