GM: Safer Is Better

Passive safety systems are those that act in response to something that has occurred.

Passive safety systems are those that act in response to something that has occurred. Like airbags deploying as a consequence of a collision.

Active safety systems are those that act to prevent something untoward occurring. Like blind spot monitors in side-view mirrors (ideally keeping the driver from moving into a space that is already occupied, thereby actively avoiding a collision).

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(Photo: John F. Martin for GM)

Active safety systems are all about sensors and monitors and interface devices that warn the driver without untoward distraction (i.e., all manner of bells, buzzers and flashing lights might cause the driver to become exceedingly agitated, thereby perhaps initiating an accident that has nothing to do with the bells, buzzers and flashing lights).

So while automakers make much of all of their systems that allow access to the Internet for various recreational applications, they are also undertaking the deployment of technologies that will help in the area of active safety.

While much of the work is done digitally, there is nothing like actual vehicles on actual roads.

To that end, GM announced late last week that it has nearly completed construction of the Active Safety Testing Area (ASTA) at its Milford Proving Ground in Michigan.

This is a $12-million project that started in June 2013 and is slated for being ready to go in December.

The ASTA is a 52-acre site for developing, testing and validating active safety technologies. In addition to various road courses, it has a 16-acre dynamic pad that test drivers and engineers will be able to safely toss vehicles around, simulating what could happen in the real world.

In addition to which, it will be used for the development of “Super Cruise,” GM’s automated driving technology (hands-off lane following, braking and speed control that can be a safer way to drive, particularly in stop-and-go conditions) as well as vehicle-to-vehicle communications technology (a car might provide a car following information about road conditions that can enhance safety) that the company plans to introduce in 2017 on the Cadillac CTS.