In a speech made this Sunday at the 21st annual Congress of the Intelligent Transport Society, the CEO of General Motors Mary Barra stated that the company plans to launch "hands-free driving" cars in 2016. The Cadillac models, which will sport the first "Super Cruise" function, will also be able to exchange real-time traffic information with other cars in traffic via Wi-Fi.
The Super Cruise function, as it's been called by the GM official, will be able to keep your vehicle in one lane, can steer the car automatically and is capable of making the required speed adjustments all by itself. This means that on an ultra-congested highway you can simply take your hands off the wheel, your feet off the pedals and let the car take over. However, you should still pay attention to the road and be ready to take over control at any time.
The vehicle-to-vehicle communication system will allow your car to share information with the other cars involved in traffic via Wi-Fi. This technology will not only help you to avoid collisions on the road but will also inform you about the congested roads you should stay away from. Since cars can now share their geographical position and current speed, this system can prove to be very helpful by notifying you in time when someone ahead of you is hits the brakes too hard.
Although this is an important technological improvement, it's not only far from perfect but also pretty far behind Google's self-driving cars. The one thing that I find very interesting is that a lot of governments (the US included) consider this kind of advancements a top priority, since it will help reduce traffic accidents and eventually lead to a fuel consumption reduction, but one has to wonder why aren't alternative car fuels an even bigger priority?