The 2017 Cadillac CTS is getting vehicle-to-vehicle technology this year. The sedans will be outfitted with DSRC short-range radio communication devices to transmit and receive simple messages, including vehicles’ GPS location, speed and heading. Those messages are sent 1,000 times a second across up to about 1,000 feet.
“It’s sending out basic information that allows other CTS vehicles nearby to see each other, even if they’re not in the line of sight,” said Matthew Kirsch, the lead engineering group manager for automated driving and active safety. “The technology allows the driver to know what’s going on with other vehicles — hard braking, a disabled vehicle or slippery road conditions. Then it alerts the driver in advance of the hazard and gives the driver time to avoid by changing lanes or applying the brakes.”
Cadillac has decided to include the V2V tech as standard equipment going forward rather than making customers choose it and pay more for it as an option. “Customers might not want to pay for it,” said Steve Martin of Cadillac. He acknowledged the common chicken-and-egg problem with new automotive tech: In order for it to be worth paying for, enough people have to have it in their cars to make its usefulness plain. If you’re the only person with V2V technology, it doesn’t do you much good, so you probably won’t shell out for it as an option.
The trick is that right now, the only other vehicle that can communicate with the Cadillac CTS is another brand-new Cadillac CTS. There aren’t any other V2V-equipped vehicles at dealerships right now in the U.S., though you can buy a Prius in Japan that communicates via DSRC. Nor does this system in the CTS communicate with infrastructure or smart cities, which are mostly still in pilot program stages.
Cadillac sees itself as the advanced technology pioneer in the GM stable. V2V will eventually make its way into Chevys and other GM brands, but there was no official word on when that would happen. “We like to play nice with all of our sister brands,” said Martin.
But Cadillac is still hoping that by introducing V2V to production cars, it will start the conversation with other auto manufacturers in the U.S. “If any other manufacturer uses DSRC, we’d need to work together” to make the systems talk to each other, Kirsch said. But his team’s attitude is, “Heck yes, this is the system we’re using, so let’s make it work for both of our companies’ customers.”
“We want to bring technology that’s usable now,” Martin said, “not half a beta test that relies on other people elsewhere being able to do something with it. We’re bringing something that’s ready to use out of the box today. It shows where we put our stake in the ground.”