Larry Magid: Driver-assistance technology coming to a car near you

Larry Magid

General Motors, Ford and some other car companies are not all that far behind Tesla when it comes to driver-assist technology. While only Tesla offers what it calls “Full Self Driving” (FSD) as a beta program for those who have paid up to $12,000 for the privilege of being

Larry Magid (Gary Reyes / Mercury News)

among the first to try this technology, most auto companies now have features that will keep your car in its lane on the highway — in some cases without the driver even needing to have their hands on the wheel.

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General Motors just announced that its Super Cruise technology will be expanded to work on undivided highways in the U.S. and Canada. In a press release, the company said that it’s “doubling the Super Cruise road network,” adding “hundreds of thousands of additional miles of roads in the U.S. and Canada (that) can be explored hands-free.” This expansion will allow drivers to transverse roads like the Pacific Coast Highway, the Trans-Canada Highway or, you can “get your kicks on Route 66,” without having your hands on the wheel.

Super Cruise accelerates or brakes as needed, steers to keep you in your lane, and in some situations, can change lanes “to pass slower traffic and to move from a lane that may be ending.” Unlike Tesla’s autopilot, which requires the driver to keep pressure on the steering wheel to prove they’re able to take over, the GM technology monitors the driver’s head position to make sure they’re looking at the road.

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Another difference between GM and Tesla’s strategy is that GM is using LiDAR map data, radars and GPS along with cameras. Tesla cars don’t have LiDar, and the company recently stopped putting radar in some models, relying solely on cameras to determine the vehicle’s position and proximity to other vehicles, pedestrians and obstacles. LiDar, short for  “light detection and ranging,” uses lasers to create a 3D representation of the environment.

Super Cruise is available mostly on higher-end GM cars, including some Cadillacs, Hummers and other models, but the company has pledged to roll it out to other models in its fleet.

Ford offers what it calls Ford BlueCruise with what the company describes as “Intelligent Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop-and-Go and Lane Centering and Speed Sign Recognition.” Like GM, it allows for hands-free driving by monitoring your head and eyes with an in-cabin camera.

For the past several months, I’ve been beta testing Tesla’s so-called “Full Self Driving” so you don’t have …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Latest News

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