(CBS News) Cadillac is calling it "Super Cruise" technology, but we all know what it really is: a huge step toward a future of self-driving cars. The technology is capable of fully automatic steering, braking and lane-centering in highway driving under certain optimal conditions. Cadillac believes the system could be ready for production by mid-decade.
The automaker is quick to point out that this is a "semi-autonomous" system, as opposed to fully autonomous driving. But that's an easy distinction to miss when you see someone cruising down the highway at 60 miles-per-hour without their hands on the wheel.
The Super Cruise system is designed primarily for highway driving, in both bumper-to-bumper traffic and long road trips.
"Super Cruise has the potential to improve driver performance and enjoyment," said Don Butler, vice president of Cadillac marketing, in a press release. "Our goal with advanced technologies, like this and our CUE system, is to lead in delivering an intuitive user experience."
The main innovation in the semi-autonomous system is lane-centering technology that automatically detects the vehicle's position on the road and makes adjustments without driver input. The technology also utilizes GPS map data to anticipate curves in the road ahead.
Some of the building blocks of Super Cruise are already available in Cadillac luxury sedans, particularly the XTS and ATS.
"In the coming years, autonomous driving systems paired with advanced safety systems could help eliminate the crash altogether by interceding on behalf of drivers before they're even aware of a hazardous situation." said John Capp, General Motors director of Global Active Safety Electronics and Innovation.
"More than ever, consumers will be able to trust their car to do the right thing."