Cadillac's new bumpers avoid contact and raise an interesting question

With new bumpers that sense low speed contact will drivers start to rely on the car to stop itself?

One of the most frustrating things a driver can do with a new car is hit something. That may seem obvious and ridiculous but what we said is true. On our staff many are professional, or highly trained drivers. That doesn’t mean we are immune to the simple laws of physics. Even we sometimes bump things.

Imagine yourself in a new Cadillac SRX on the way to dinner. This is a car you worked hard to have. It looks perfect. The bumpers are smooth, shiny, unblemished, like the rest of your one day old, $50,000 vehicle. Imagine next that you go into the city to dinner and your best parking option is in an underground parking garage. Here in New England those garages are always about 25% too small in every single dimension. You look for a good spot and find one. Thinking ahead, you opt to back the SRX in. As you back up you realize that you really don’t know exactly where the back bumper is despite the cameras, beeps and your eyeballs looking in the rear-view mirror. Of course if you don’t get all the way back, a numbskull with a few too many glasses of vino is likely to drag their car across the front of yours, so you want to be as far back as you can be. In the Cadillac you could simply take your foot off the brake and just let the car stop you.

As you, the spouse, and the kids come back out from dinner (what did you think this was a romance novel?) you hop in. Just as you pull forward one of the nippers screams as if they have been bitten by a gruffalo. You turn to look out of instinct and just as you do a person steps into the path of the SRX. It stops itself despite your foot being ON THE GAS. Of course the mini-me in back is only being poked by the other mini-me and everything is fine.

With the Cadillac system the car uses radar, cameras, sonar, lidar, karma, and scent (or at least two of these) to determine when the driver needs assistance stopping the vehicle. It then does so and it will hold the car immobile until the driver steps back onto the gas. The Cadillac system, and others that will surely follow, will be a huge help, and may change the way we drive. Why not let the car stop itself in certain circumstances.

This system will be a big help to bumpers, pedestrians and insurance companies.

Ps - Unfortunately, while you were at dinner another driver parked next to you and swung their door open hitting yours and leaving a huge ding. If Cadillac can prevent that damage it will win the Nobel Prize.

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