back to article General Motors to intro hands-free driving tech by 2016

General Motors is planning to release cars that can communicate with each other to avoid traffic congestion and accidental collisions as early as 2016, its chief exec said. Mary Barra announced over the weekend that the car giant was planning talkative automobiles and more advanced tech to allow hands-free driving as well. "A …

  1. DaLo

    Is there a defined standard for car-to-car communications or will each car only talk to others of the same make/model/version/software revision...?

    1. DropBear Silver badge
      Trollface

      Why of course

      Of course there is, and a quite well established one: flashing lights + sirens = get out of my way!

    2. GitMeMyShootinIrons
      Joke

      Token Ring.

      1. 2+2=5 Silver badge

        > Token Ring

        That only works on the M25

        1. Trigonoceps occipitalis

          Broken Ring

          FTFY

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vehicular_communication_systems#Technical_specifications

      The NHTSA plans to make the V2V technology required on all new light vehicles.

      http://www.nhtsa.gov/About+NHTSA/Press+Releases/NHTSA-issues-advanced-notice-of-proposed-rulemaking-on-V2V-communications

    4. RandomFactor

      And more importantly...how is the tech going to be able to distinguish from spoofed 'for the lulz' updates on the fly where someone, say, reverses the signs on approach speeds.

      1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

        someone, say, reverses the signs on approach speeds.

        Or just sends a spoofed packet to the car behind which says "I've just slammed on my brakes in full emergency mode".

    5. dotdavid

      Is there a defined standard for car-to-car communications

      Indeed! Better still we have five of them!

    6. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
      Pint

      The nice thing about software is it's so easy to manage through the lifecycle

      LOL

  2. Ralph B

    Worried? Me?

    I mean, it's not as if GM would use defective parts (and deny the fact for a decade) for their self-driving cars, is it? So, nothing to worry about then.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Worried? Me?

      GM has made garbage since the 80's. They deny any defects until they can no longer be denied. The "new" GM is no different from the "old" GM. You have the same culture and the same group brought up in the old culture running the new. You can't expect change when nothing has really changed.

  3. DougS Silver badge

    Hands free driving seems like a really bad idea

    No way is a driver who doesn't even have their hands on the wheel going to react quickly enough in an emergency situation when the car hands control back over to the driver.

    Especially if the driver is eating a messy burger or messing with their laptop or phone. It'll take their brain a second or two to change focus from what they were doing to take in what is around them and determine what to do. That second or two is going to lead to accidents that wouldn't have happened if the driver was forced to remain in control and aware of his surroundings the whole time.

    This is worse than a driver who is texting, because at least someone texting is switching his attention between driving and texting, and maintains a good deal of awareness of what is going on around him. A hands free driver might not have looked at the road for a half hour when he's called upon to suddenly take over driving the car!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Hands free driving seems like a really bad idea

      I am minded to believe that the car will fail as safely as possible. It is unlikely that all systems (speed sensors, approach sensors, V2V comms etc all fail at the same time but if they do there is no reason to believe that it would happen right at the moment of emergency and it could fail cutting power until the accelerator/brake are pressed. Separate circuits/CPUs can control different aspects of the automation so there isn't a catastrophic failure and all the systems can be continuously sense checked so that alerts are given in plenty of time.

      You trust your lives to the computers in a plane every time you fly. If the main electrics and computers in a modern car packed up while on a busy motorway at high speed you'd probably have major issues as it drops into limp mode. However it is extremely rare and we don't worry about it.

      Sure, there could be major failures and it could cause accidents and even death, but then again the amount of accidents caused by a person being left to control a car is so high, they would have to do a pretty poor job to reach that level of incompetence.

      The bigger problem is going to be, if they are so reliable that after many years automated driving you start to forget how to drive manually in an emergency.

      1. DougS Silver badge

        @AC

        I'm not talking about any systems failing. I'm talking about systems that will be designed for specific scenarios, and will hand control back over to the driver outside those scenarios. Let's say a car ahead of you starts skidding back and forth out of control. The computer is designed for lane keeping and such isn't going to try to dodge that for you, it is going to hand control to you to do (or not) the dodging yourself.

        If you've got your hands on the wheel and are paying attention, you have a much better chance of dodging that car than if you've been reading Facebook updates and suddenly the car alerts you that you need to take control and you look up and take in the scene and probably run right into that out of control car before your brain has time to evaluate the situation and determine the best way to avoid a collision.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: @AC

          "Let's say a car ahead of you starts skidding back and forth out of control. The computer is designed for lane keeping and such isn't going to try to dodge that for you"

          A computer will be able to do a much better job in this scenario than most, if not all human drivers. If you've actually been behind a car when it starts fishtailing there is no way to 'dodge' it until it starts coming to a halt. You just brake as hard as possible without skidding yourself.

          A computer could calculate the optimal braking under any given condition better than a human can and at the end of the day if a collision is inevitable then going at the slowest you possibly can when it happens (apart from something like a juggernaut rear-ending you) the better - even more so if the computer has already activated your flashers and sent a communication to all cars approaching (and the electronic traffic signs, police etc) that there is an incident ahead.

    2. getHandle

      Re: Hands free driving seems like a really bad idea

      Half the drivers round here (sarf London) are driving brain-free already. How much difference could their hands make??

  4. Yugguy

    If you trust computers implicity then you have nothing to worry about.

    After all, they never go wrong...

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Geoff Campbell
      Linux

      It's not about trusting the computer.

      The computer needs to do a better job than the meatsack is doing currently. Which, given KSI figures on the roads, a ZX-81 programmed by a primary-school child could probably do.

      GJC

  5. Christian Berger Silver badge

    Are you sure this is not an old article?

    I mean this sounds more like something from the 1960s:

    http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=vUpeAAAAIBAJ&sjid=3WANAAAAIBAJ&pg=6885,3667738

  6. Erik4872

    Super Cruise

    This is (or could be) pretty cool, but doesn't the name sound something like one of the hyperbole-laced feature names of the 60s? Sounds kind of like Positraction (independent rear suspension) or Hydromatic (automatic) transmissions.

    "Super Cruise" sounds a little like one of those.

    1. Graham Marsden

      @Erik4872 Re: Super Cruise

      Supercruise is actually the ability of aircraft to maintain a sustained speed in excess of Mach 1 without using afterburners.

      The English Electric Lightning was the first plane to be able to do it, the Concorde did it for most of its flight.

    2. noominy.noom
      Headmaster

      Re: Super Cruise

      Re: Super Cruise

      No biggie but Positraction has nothing to do with suspension. Positraction is essentially a clutch in the differential that allows both wheels to apply force to the road. Doesn't in any way change your meaning- just a pedant moment.

  7. i like crisps

    My mates had 'Hands Free' driving for years!

    yeah, started about the same time he got a 'Smart Phone'...yeah, you rarely see his hands on the steering wheel now!

    1. WraithCadmus
      Facepalm

      Re: My mates had 'Hands Free' driving for years!

      Have you considered some percussive maintenance to your mate's head?

  8. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

    Meanwhile in other news...

    hordes of lawyers were reported as salivating at the lips with the thoughts of the huge lawsuits that they'd soon be filing against GM (and any other car maker who introduces this in the near future)

    Also real estate brokers in the Carribean were reporting a large number of inquiries for properties in the $50M+ price band.

  9. Mark Allen

    What about my 1990s Honda?

    Does this mean GM won't know I am driving towards them in my low-tech 1990s Honda?

    Or will this open up a market for a Google App which will mimic these systems letting me drive down the road shouting "Get out of my way" in the various car languages.

    Now if this App could just be combined with an App to turn all the traffic lights to green as I approach... I think I may have just designed the next "must have" driving app.

  10. Marketing Hack Silver badge
    Stop

    I'm still skeptical

    Too many hackers out there, and various organizations who might use this to track your movements.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I'm still skeptical

      You've got a mobile phone? You normally have it switched on?

      They can already track you.

  11. Mike Moyle Silver badge

    So, will the government now mandate the use of hands-free-free phones when driving?

  12. JP19
    FAIL

    Its vehicle-to-vehicle communication will send and receive basic safety info

    Shame about the other 250 million or so vehicles out there that won't be talking or listening....

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