Cadillac focuses on safety with vibrating drivers' seats, other accident avoidance tech (video)

To say General Motors' Cadillac division is taking safety seriously on its upcoming 2013 vehicles would be an understatement. The automaker recently announced its high-tech accident avoidance packages dubbed Driver Awareness and Assist, the earlier of which is set to debut this Spring on its new XTS model, moving along to the ATS by the summer. Driver Assist (set to release in the fall) packs goodies like Automatic Collision Preparation and auto-braking, while the Awareness version aims to help keep you in your lane and safe from blind spots, among other things. Despite the differing monikers, both sport many of the same systems such as Adaptive Forward Lighting that can shift 15 degrees based on your turn, radar-based adaptive cruise control and Rear Cross Traffic Alert so you don't get sideswiped while backing up. Most notable among both is the company's Safety Alert seat -- AT&T Labs may be testing a force-feedback steering wheel, but GM's gone and planted haptic feedback into the drivers' bottom seat cushion. Essentially, using the radar, cameras and sensors around the car, the seat can rumble on its left, right or all around, in order to "nudge" you in situations such as getting too close to another car or veering out of your lane. You can also opt for audio cues if you're not fond of vibrations, or use both together. Of course, there's a whole lot more to it, so if you're curious to see it all in action you'll find a duo of videos and more information in the press releases planted after the break.

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Cadillac XTS Safety Seat Alerts Drivers to Dangers

Industry-first directional seat vibrations alert drivers to crash threats


DETROIT – When the all-new Cadillac XTS luxury sedan begins production this spring, it will be the industry's first car to use directional tactile sensation – vibrations of the driver's seat bottom – to warn of crash threats while driving and parking.

The patented Cadillac Safety Alert Seat generates vibrating pulse patterns on the left and/or right side of the lower bolster to alert the driver of potential dangers, such as drifting from a traffic lane or toward nearby objects while parking. Threats from the front and rear trigger pulses on both sides of the seat.

"It's good to see automakers experimenting with new technology to help communicate to drivers when their driving is about to get them into trouble," said Adrian Lund, president of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. "We commend GM for their innovative use of haptic feedback and hope that drivers find it helpful."

The system works in tandem with other visual alerts, and research shows that it can quickly and accurately focus driver attention to the direction of potential dangers.

"It's akin to someone tapping on your shoulder in a crowd to get your attention," said, General Motors Active Safety Technical Fellow Raymond Kiefer. "Using the tactile sense to communicate crash threat direction provides an effective and intuitive way to cut through the clutter of visual and auditory sensory information that drivers routinely experience."

The seats are part of the Cadillac Driver Awareness and Driver Assist packages, a combination of active safety systems designed to help drivers avoid crashes. The Driver Awareness Package, available for the launch of the Cadillac XTS this spring, includes Forward Collision Alert, Lane Departure Warning, Side Blind Zone Alert and Rear Cross Traffic Alert.

The Driver Assist Package, available this fall, also uses the Safety Alert Seat and features Adaptive Cruise Control, Automatic Collision Preparation, and Front and Rear Automatic Braking Systems.

The Drive Assist Awareness and Driver Assist packages will also be available this year in the Cadillac ATS luxury sedan and SRX luxury crossover.

According to Kiefer, GM research shows that the seat may direct driver attention to the location of a crash threat more quickly and accurately than beeping alerts.

"Vibrating alerts also may help drivers who do not hear beeping alerts due to hearing loss or competing noises, and may be preferred by drivers and passengers who might be annoyed by beeps and shut crash avoidance features off," Kiefer said. "The last thing we want is for drivers to turn off features with safety benefits."

The Safety Alert Seat works with a variety of sensors and cameras installed in the car that help "intelligently" decide when to activate warnings. For example, if a turn signal is on, lane departure warnings are not presented.

Safety Alert Seat vibrations can be selected by the driver, via an in-vehicle menu, to replace the audible beeping alerts used across much of the industry.

The seats also will be connected to the XTS Park Assist system and Rear Cross Traffic Alert system to help make parking in tight spaces easier.

Using exterior cameras, drivers can see the outside of the car along with dynamic parking guides on the eight-inch LCD screen, located on the center instrument panel. As the car backs up, the seat provides a few quick pulses to both sides of the seat when an object is first detected directly behind the car, and then provides repeated pulses when an object is closer. Meanwhile, the Rear Cross Traffic Alert system looks for approaching cross traffic behind the vehicle that is signaled with either left or right pulses to the driver.

"We feel customers will appreciate the intuitive elegance of the Safety Alert Seat, and more importantly, will appreciate the 'good vibrations' afforded by the features linked to this seat," Kiefer said.

Cadillac has been a leading luxury auto brand since 1902. In recent years, Cadillac has engineered a historic renaissance led by artful engineering and a


Technology on XTS, ATS Can Help Avoid Crashes

Control and alert strategy assists drivers and can take action if needed


DETROIT – Cadillac will introduce a network of cameras, radar and ultrasonic sensors on the all-new 2013 XTS and ATS luxury sedans designed to help drivers avoid crashes by improving their vision and awareness of road hazards, even braking automatically if sensors predict the vehicle is at risk of crashing.

"New technology in the XTS and ATS is intended to extend the vision around the car to help drivers identify obstacles. When necessary, the vehicle may take action to help them avoid a collision," said Don Butler, vice president of Cadillac Marketing. "Cadillac expands its lineup dramatically in 2013, and these technologies are an important component."

The Driver Awareness Package, available for the launch of the XTS this spring and ATS this summer, and Driver Assist Package, available on XTS and ATS this fall, includes:

Safety Seat Alert – Uses auto industry-first directional seat vibrations on either the left and/or right side of the driver's seat cushion, depending on the location and nature of the impending concern, alerts the driver to a potential collision. Threats from the front and rear trigger pulses on both sides of the seats. It works with other visual alerts, and research shows it can quickly and accurately focus driver attention to the direction of potential crashes. It also may help drivers who may be annoyed by or not hear beeping alerts. The driver may also program the system to replace seat vibrations with beeps.

Forward Collision Alert – Radar and camera technology detect a possible front-end collision threat and alert the driver, giving him or her additional time to react. The driver can set the alerting time to far, medium or near settings.

Lane Departure Warning – A camera-based lane detection system alerts the driver of unsignalled lane changes. If a turn signal is used, it will not send a warning. The camera, mounted near the inside rearview mirror, identifies traffic lane markings. Lane Departure Warning activates at speeds above 35 miles per hour.

Side Blind Zone Alert – Using radar sensors on both sides of the vehicle, the system "looks" for other vehicles in the blind zone areas and indicates their presence with symbols lit in the outside mirrors. This technology alerts drivers to vehicles that otherwise might escape their vision. If the driver activates the turn signal in the direction of the detected vehicle, the symbol will flash to provide extra warning not to change lanes.

Rear Cross Traffic Alert – Using radar sensors, it warns the driver of approaching cross traffic when backing out of a parking spot. Left or right-side alerts are triggered if moving vehicles are detected. The system helps give drivers more time to react to obstacles that may be difficult to see in the side mirror.

Adaptive Forward Lighting – With adaptive forward lighting, the projector headlamps swivel in the direction of the front wheels to maintain forward lighting in concert with vehicle steering. Heading into a curve or turning around a corner, the headlamps swivel up to 15 degrees at varying speeds, depending on the severity of the curve and the vehicle speed. The system works with both low- and high-beam headlamp settings. The system improves visibility at night and in inclement weather compared to traditional headlamps, making driving easier.

Rear Vision Camera With Dynamic Guidelines – With a display in the center stack, the camera provides a natural view of objects directly behind the XTS or ATS. Dynamic guide lines laid over the video image assist in parking maneuvers by showing the vehicle's path and available space.

Full-Speed Adaptive Cruise Control – This system uses radar and vision sensing to detect a vehicle ahead and calculate its distance and relative speed, and then sends a message to the onboard computer to maintain a driver-selected following time/distance. When the traffic has cleared or the object has moved, the system will accelerate the vehicle back to the previously set speed. Like conventional cruise control, the driver can always control the system by applying the brakes or accelerator.

Front and Rear Automatic Braking – Using radar and ultrasonic sensors, this feature can help prevent or mitigate front and rear collisions at low speeds via a progression of alerts that extends to complete braking if necessary. In effect, the system works like a "virtual bumper." For example, if the vehicle is in stop-and-go traffic, the system will alert if the lead vehicle slows unexpectedly and, if needed, brake the vehicle to help prevent an impact or reduce impact speed.

Automatic Collision Preparation – When the XTS and ATS sense a collision is imminent, braking is applied to lessen the impact severity with the vehicle detected ahead, or even enable the driver to avoid the crash.

Intelligent Brake Assist – Detects a panic-braking situation and assists a braking driver by automatically applying added brake force to help slow the vehicle more quickly. This system uses radar and vision sensors to help the driver avoid or mitigate damage caused by a front-end crash.

The Driver Assist Package uses sensor fusion, which integrates a broad range of sensing and positioning technologies. Sensor fusion is a key to Cadillac's ongoing work in developing sophisticated, self-driving systems able to do things such as automatically maintain lane position and adapt to surrounding traffic. Semi-autonomous or even fully autonomous driving systems could be available by the end of the decade.

Beyond the new technologies, XTS and ATS have a strong body structure and 10 standard air bags. Other standard safety features include:

Dual-stage frontal driver air bag
Dual-stage frontal passenger air bag with passenger sensing system
Driver and front passenger side-impact air bars
Driver and front passenger knee air bags
Outboard head curtain air bags, front and rear, with rollover sensing
Outboard rear thorax air bags
Safety belt pretensioners and load limiters
Child seat LATCH system
StabiliTrak electronic stability control
Four-wheel disc brakes with four-channel antilock brakes.

Standard OnStar

OnStar is standard on XTS and ATS. It uses GPS and cellular phone technology to automatically call for help in the event of collision. OnStar service also includes myCadillac and OnStar myLink mobile apps, which offer vehicle information and OnStar services via the customer's smartphone.