Schedule delayed after safety concerns
General Motors CEO May Barra has suggested the company will ease its push to launch autonomous driving technology, saying it will “look at what technology is in the best interests of consumers.”
GM was expected to launch its Super Cruise semi-autonomous system on the Cadillac CT6 in 2017. However, Barra said: “We aren’t putting a specific date on it.”
Barra’s comments come amid concerns that have been growing about the safety of autonomous driving systems since the fatal crash of a Tesla Model S running in Autopilot mode. The crash, which occurred in Florida in May, happened when a semi-truck turned across the path of the car. The Autopilot failed to "see" the white trailer against a bright sky and did not apply brakes. Neither did the driver, 40-year old Joshua Brown, who appears to have been distracted.
GM’s Super Cruise system should eliminate that possibility, adding a retina scanner to its arsenal of sensors. It monitors whether or not the driver is paying attention to the road when the system is engaged; if not, the system shuts off.
Autopilot only displays a warning that the driver must remain in control while the system is engaged. Some safety groups have called for the system to be disabled until the technology is perfected; at present, it is in a "beta" testing phase.
There is no doubt that autonomous cars are coming. Only time will tell if GM’s announcement leads to an industry-wide delay in the roll-out.