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 GM AIMS FOR AUTO-SAFETY LEADERSHIP


New Facility

A few ’16 GM models will be fitted with new, relatively inexpensive autonomous braking capability that at low speeds can prevent striking a pedestrian, even a small one.

The ‘80s and ‘90s saw automakers and megasuppliers launch a wave of new or expanded proving-ground facilities to deal with a headlong rush of electromechanical innovation that created a new landscape of powertrain and safety advances.  Antilock brakes, airbags, all-wheel drive, stability control and a raft of other previously unimagined features all required exhaustive development in a controlled environment.

Now the digital era brings the singular promise of autonomous capabilities – and the launch of new facilities to develop these society-shifting technologies is coming fast and hard.  Just a week after the University of Michigan unveiled a 32-acre simulated “city” for autonomous-vehicle testing in cooperation with several automakers, General Motors unveils as a part of its historic proving grounds here a new Active Safety Test Area (ASTA) intended to concentrate on autonomous-oriented safety advances.

The 52-acre ASTA site is barely 20 miles north of the University of Michigan’s autonomous cityscape (GM is one of the automakers collaborating in that initiative, too), but GM executives and engineers are careful to point out their new $14 million testing site is concentrating on safety innovations based on autonomous technology, not automated driving.

There’s a good reason for that:  GM believes the first phases of autonomous driving will be dominated by the safety-enhancing prospects for autonomous technology.


“The focus is on accident avoidance first,” says Mark Reuss, executive vice president-global product development and supply chain.  “Accident avoidance is the key,” he says, not only to reducing the human and societal cost of vehicle collisions but also to vet the foundation technology that eventually leads to full automated driving.

 
Be Safe