Cadillac to debut new safety seat in XTS luxury sedan

March 29, 2012

March 29, 2012—General Motors’ new Cadillac XTS luxury sedan scheduled to go into production this spring will be the first car to use directional tactile sensation, vibrations of the driver’s seat, to warn drivers of crash threats while operating the vehicle.

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

Raymond Kiefer, active safety technical fellow for General Motors, said the company’s research shows that the seat may direct driver attention to the location of a crash threat more quickly and accurately compared to beeping alerts.

“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,” Kiefer said. “It’s akin to someone tapping on your shoulder in a crowd to get your attention.”

“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.”

General Motors said the system works in tandem with other visual alerts on the vehicle. 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 includes forward collision alert, lane departure warning, side blind zone alert and rear cross traffic alert. The Driver Assist Package includes adaptive cruise control, automatic collision preparation, and front and rear automatic braking systems.

The Safety Alert Seat also works with various sensors and cameras installed in the vehicle that help intelligently decide when to activate warnings, according to General Motors. For example, lane departure warnings are not presented when a turn signal is on.

“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.”

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