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GM promises hands-free Cadillac by 2016

Image copyright General Motors

General Motors has announced that by 2016, some of its Cadillacs will incorporate self-driving functions.

Vehicle-to-vehicle communication and a cruise function will be fitted in different top-of-the-range GM models.

It will be the first time that automated technology is made available at higher speeds.

The 2017 Cadillac CTS sedan, which will go on sale in 2016, will have the necessary transmitters and receivers fitted as standard.

The equipment will let it know the location and speed of other vehicles, as long as they are also fitted with the technology.

A different model, as yet undisclosed, will offer a "Super Cruise" function, which keeps the vehicle in the centre of the lane, maintains speeds on the motorway and controls braking.

That could mean keeping to the speed limit, but would also allow the car to take control in stop-go traffic jams.

Hands-free

"If the mood strikes you on the high-speed road from Barstow, California to Las Vegas, you can take a break from the wheel and pedals and let the car do the work," said GM's chief executive, Mary Barra.

Automated driving is expected to ease congestion and reduce accidents, though drivers will still be expected to pay full attention to the road, rather than shifting their focus to reading the paper or applying make-up.

GM said it was also working on a system to monitor drivers to ensure they are paying adequate attention.

"I'm convinced customers will embrace [vehicle-to-vehicle] and automated driving technologies for one simple reason: they are the answer to everyday problems that people want solved," said Ms Barra.

Other companies are expected to make similar announcements about automated driving technology throughout the week at the Intelligent Transportation Society World Congress in Detroit, where GM made its plans public.

Mercedes-Benz already offers a system that allows cruising at low speeds. Google is working to develop fully automated self-driving cars.

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