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GM rolls out leg-shaking wireless Cadillac

CD player, tints, GPS, threat assessment algorithm

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General Motors last week unveiled its vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) wireless comms set-up which allows cars equipped with the system to communicate and issue proximity warnings to attention-deficit drivers.

The protype system, fitted to Cadillac STS sedans, uses a GPS antenna and wireless antenna to receive and broadcast positional and speed info between V2V-equipped automobiles within a quarter-mile radius. A computer system calculates the relative positions, speeds and course of the cars in this footprint and uses GM's "threat assessment algorithm" to issue "you're going to have a crash" alerts.

One of these warnings is - in common with a similar wake-up call already deployed by Citroen - a vibration of the driver's right leg if, for example, he were to attempt to enter a right-hand lane unaware of the presence of another V2V Caddie bearing down on him. And just in case having your limbs molested by your motor isn't enough, an additional visual warning flashes up in the rear-view mirror.

Of course, the success of the whole concept depends on GM persuading every car manufacturer to adopt the V2V system, as CNET and others rightly note. After all, it's all very well relying on your Cadillac to tell you you're about to hit a Buick if there's a Ford Focus manned by someone who does not have the benefit of vibrating trouser alerts about to intrude unannounced into your roadspace

GM research engineer Priyantha Mudalige admitted: "We're trying to standardize the wireless communication between cars, and we hope other car manufacturers will follow. This would be the reinvention of the vehicle. Before this works, we need to have market penetration."

In other words, it's a lovely idea on paper but almost certainly doomed to failure.

Nonetheless, physical ("haptic"), visual and auditory warnings are the way of the future, some pundits claim. Oxford uni's Dr Charles Spence earlier this year explained the novel ways in which car manufacturers are looking to keep drivers on the case, and said that one Japanese car maker reckons all cars will have tactile warning systems by 2010. ®

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