GM's upgraded research simulator tests autonomous driving

Forget the recalls and lawsuits. The automotive giant is keeping its chin up as it tests Super Cruise, a semi-autonomous driving system.

Screen Shot 2014-04-21 at 2.09.41 PM

Ignoring the scorching news of mishandled recalls and impending lawsuits, General Motors said it is making progress in its quest to develop autonomous driving systems.

The beleaguered automotive giant credits an upgrade to its research driving simulator for enabling developers to study how drivers interact with Super Cruise, GM's semi-automatic driving system. GM said Super Cruise could be in Cadillac models later this decade.

Using a 360-degree high-definition projection screen integrated with a 2-terabyte-per-second image generator, visuals on the simulator can respond to steering and pedal force inputs within 70 milliseconds. This allows developers to measure driver control interactions and eye-glance behavior, as well as predict and evaluate driver approaches to the system, before it's available on vehicles. 

John Capp, director of GM Electrical, Controls and Active Safety Researc, said in a statement:

Simulator testing helps our vehicle teams understand the consequences of design decisions quickly and early in the development cycle when it is cost effective to do so. Ultimately, the work done here enables the rapid development of sophisticated systems like Super Cruise and leads to improved driving experiences for our customers.

GM has come under fire as reports surfaced indicating the manufacturer delayed a recall on defective ignition switches within Saturn Ions for years, even as it was faced more than 30,000 warranty repair claims. A recall of 2.6 million cars was announced this past February for that defect.

A second recall was announced in late March — this time involving problems with power steering — and affected 1.3 million US vehicles, including Saturn Ion models from years 2004 to 2007. In a statement issued Saturday, GM admitted that it didn't do enough to take care of the power steering problem.

Time will tell whether the automaker's recall hiccup will impact future technology rollouts — particularly those with implications as vast as self-driving cars.