A Vauxhall that drives itself is just a few years away from going on sale, a senior General Motors engineer has told Auto Express.
Dr Nady Boules, a director of global research and development, said he could see a range-topping model like the Insignia having the ability to drive itself on the motorway, including steering automatically around high-speed corners, by the middle of the decade.
General Motors, Vauxhall’s parent company, has already developed a self-driving Cadillac prototype which uses ‘Super Cruise’, a suite of technologies which combines radar, ultrasonic sensors, cameras and GPS data to fully steer, brake and keep the car in its lane on the motorway.
Boules called this type of driving ‘semi-autonomous’, as the driver is still in charge of the vehicle and must be ready to take over at any moment.
“I can see a time very soon when we will offer semi-autonomous driving as an option on high-end models,” Dr Boules told us. “In the next few years we are convinced that drivers will realise it is crazy to drive yourself. The car can do it much more safely. It doesn’t get tired on a long journey.”
Boules said that technology such as lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control and automatic collision braking – which is already available on top-end Vauxhalls – would be supplemented with increased processing power, including the ability for General Motors cars and trucks to ‘talk’ to each other, warning of heavy braking ahead for example.
“We would only need 15-20 per cent of the vehicles on the road to have this vehicle-to-vehicle interaction for there to be a significant benefit to safety,” Boules added.
Completely autonomous driving, where the car takes over in towns and cities, is still some way off. Boules said that if governments and other car makers work together to set legislation, a completely autonomous GM model would be available from 2020 onwards. It is likely to be a four wheeled version of the EN-V 2.0 concept car.