GM Has a Patent for an External Pedestrian Air Bag
Over the month of December, GM was granted more than 80 patents and, according to the Detroit Free Press, one of them was a patent for an external airbag that’s designed to “provide protection to a pedestrian.” GM isn’t the first company to take this route in order to protect those outside the vehicle, with Volvo being the first brand that comes to mind with a similar system that was introduced in Europe. Unfortunately, Volvo says it comes in second to crash prevention technology like that found as standard or optional equipment on most modern cars.
The patent, according to FREEP, describes the airbag being located in the fender area, ahead of the side doors but adjacent to the hood. One would assume the airbag would deploy milliseconds before impact and encase the whole front end or, at the very least, cover the windshield. Why the windshield? Well, according to Maeva Ribas, the manager of design analysis at The Carlab, it’s not the initial impact that’s fatal to pedestrians, but the secondary impact that occurs as pedestrians pass over the hood and hit the A-Pillars or the other areas around the windshield.
And, to be clear, GM isn’t exactly sure what it wants to do with the technology. Tom Wilkerson, the safety communications spokesman for GM, said, “The pedestrian protection airbag could become an important engineering solution in the future.” While another spokesperson, Patrick Morrissey, said: “It’s a promising technology, but we have no specific production plans at this time.”
As you can see, it’s certainly something that GM is looking into, but it’s not necessarily something you’ll find on your 2020 Chevy Impala. As of now, GM has some 40,000+ patents on file, and this one could very well fade into the abyss, being used only as a method of protecting design options down the road. With that in mind, I wouldn’t rule it out quite yet – In 2015 alone, more than 5,000 pedestrians were killed by cars in the U.S. And, in 2016, the figure raised to nearly 6,000 – the largest increase in pedestrian fatalities on record. So, it’s an ongoing problem and, while the U.S. isn’t as strict as it could be on pedestrian protection, other markets are, and the U.S. could very easily follow suit.
What do you think? Should automakers focus more on preventing the collision altogether or should the focus be on preventing injury in the event of an accident? Should both technologies be put to use? Let us know in the comments section below.
2019 GM Pickups May Have Carbon Fiber Beds
General Motors might be using carbon fiber construction within the cargo bed of its next-generation 2019 Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra. The news comes from an insider close to GM who spoke with The Wall Street Journal. Apparently, GM will use the composite beds to save weight while adding strength. Only higher-end trims will be available with the composite box, though its availability could spread throughout the lineup.
The move would come as an alternative to aluminum, which Chevrolet has relentlessly poked fun at Ford for using with its 2015-current F-150. TV commercials and other ads have portrayed Ford’s aluminum beds as weaker than Chevy’s steel beds. Moving to carbon fiber would reduce the bed’s weight while providing more strength than aluminum – or so the insider says.
We can expect GM to debut its new pickups at the 2018 Detroit Auto show in January or the Chicago Auto Show in February. Sales will likely begin in the third or fourth quarter of 2018. GM hasn’t commented on the WSJ report or alluded to carbon fiber being present. There is also no word on whether the beds would be an extra-cost option or come as standard equipment on LTZ or High Country models. We should find out more in the coming weeks, so stay tuned to TopSpeed.com for the latest.
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GM’s New In-Car Marketplace Could Lead to More Distracted Driving
General Motors’ grand idea to introduce an in-car digital marketplace is a good idea…on paper. It accomplishes what GM describes as the system does make it easier for us to order food, pay for coffee, or even redeem gas coupons. It’s actually a great idea if you’re a passenger in a car. It’s when you’re the driver of the car that the marketplace idea immediately turns sour.
Sorry Ford: GM Trucks to Get Carbon Fiber Beds
General Motors is not messing around. The American automaker is reportedly pushing forward with plans to develop carbon fiber beds on its pickup trucks. The decision to use the lightweight but expensive material is seen as an attempt by GM to elevate the status of its pickup trucks, specifically the premium trims. There’s no exact timetable on when these lightweight beds will hit the market, but The Wall Street Journal report indicates that it could be ready in two years or by the time the next-generation pickups from Chevy and GMC hit the market.
Lord Help Us: GM Introduces In-Car Marketplace
As technology evolves we, as humans, become more and more physically disconnected from one another. GM is now pushing that one step further bring it’s new “Marketplace” commerce system to its infotainment systems. The system is designed to allow drivers to redeem gas coupons, order food, pay for coffee, pretty much anything you would usually have to get out of your car and interact with people to do now. GM has partnered with a few companies, including Dunkin’ Donuts, TGI Fridays, Shell, and ExxonMobil, among others. The system will be included in all new vehicles and updated OTA to vehicles on the road that are compatible. But, this isn’t all gravy as it will lead to things that aren’t so cool. Keep reading to find out more about GM’s new Marketplace and how it will ultimately be used to collect data and advertise.
Reuters is reporting that PSA Group now wants GM to refund nearly half, or about $700 million of the $1.353 billion it paid to the U.S. Automaker last July for the acquisition of Opel and Vauxhall. The report comes with claims that GM failed to disclose just how badly Opel and Vauxhall would miss hitting emissions targets set by the European Union for 2021 and beyond. PSA, which includes brands like Peugeot and Citroen, says it was misled and is owed this refund as the acquisition of brands that fall so far from 2021 emissions targets will cause it to incur significantly more fines than previously expected. GM claims that it provided “substantial information” and that “PSA undertook a robust due diligence process” that included “their employees, many experts, and lawyers.”
Want to know more? Keep reading to learn about the change to EU emissions rules in 2021 and what kind of fines PSA is looking at over the Opel and Vauxhall Acquisition.
Does GM Know Better than Elon Musk when it Comes to Self-Driving Cars?
The truth is, we don’t have fully autonomous cars – I’m talking about level 5 autonomy. The closest to come to it so far is Tesla with its AutoPilot system, but it’s nowhere near being trustworthy enough to let it run all on its own without a human looking after it. Musk has gone on record saying that all Tesla’s built after October of 2016 are level 5 Autonomous capable. Of course, that means Tesla’s cars can do so with nothing more than cameras and radar, something no other manufacturer can seem to agree with. Most believe that at SAE-certified autonomous cars will require a full sensor suite that includes, at the very least, cameras, radar, and lidar, if not other sensors as well. Scott Miller, the Director of Autonomous Vehicle Integration over at GM, said, “To think you can see everything you need for a level five autonomous [car] with cameras and radar, I don’t know how you do that.”
Of course, nobody really knows what SAE level-5 will really by, so Miller’s insinuation that he knows whether or not Tesla’s system is SAE-certifiable for level 5 is a moot point – SAE doesn’t know what level 5 autonomy requires and there is no test out there for it as of the time of this writing. Be that as it may, Miller still says that Elon Musk is giving us the ol’ leg pull because using just camera’s and radar isn’t possible
“The level of technology and knowing what it takes to do the mission, to say you can be a full level five with just cameras and radars is not physically possible. I think you need the right sensors and right computing package to do it. Think about it; we have LIDAR, radar, and cameras on this. The reason we have that type of sensor package is that we think you need not be deeply integrated in to be level five, you should have redundancy.”
Of course, we should keep in mind that these comments are coming from a company that’s barely at level two, and just launched the “Supercruise” system in a single vehicle for the first time. That system is considered level-2 and allows hands-off driving on certain stretches of highway. So, you could really chalk this one off to someone who doesn’t have experience in anything more than an entry-level technology trying to call out the man who practically pioneered the self-driving revolution.
And, let’s not forget that Elon has been criticized before as well – remember when they said it was crazy to land a rocket, upright on a platform and reuse said rocket later on? Yeah, I do too, and guess what? Elon did it. For now, we’ll just have to wait and see, and I can appreciate the want for redundant systems and backups for safety, but telling someone they can’t do something it’s a surefire way to motivate them to prove you wrong. So, we shall see…
General Motors Launches New Military Defense Division Called GM Defense
The U.S. Military now has a new supplier of vehicles and futuristic technology. General Motors announced its creation of a special division within the company designed to cater to military hardware, designed both by GM and in conjunction with the specific needs of the military. It’s called GM Defense LLC and is already working with the U.S. Army and Navy with at least three projects. According to a report by Automotive News, GM officials say GM Defense is "helping GM better anticipate and react to the diverse needs of global aerospace and defense customers."
GM Defense’s latest project is SURUS, or the Silent Utility Rover Universal Superstructure. The hydrogen fuel cell-powered vehicle is fully autonomous and has a nearly limitless number of configurations thanks to its flat top designed to accept various accessory components like personnel cabs, cargo containers, and even mobile command and hospital pods. Preceding SURUS is GM Defense’ hydrogen fuel cell-powered Chevrolet Colorado ZH2, a modified Colorado mid-size pickup designed as a support vehicle for the U.S. Army. Both SURUS and the ZH2 boast silent operation with no smells or emissions, which are perfect for sensitive combat operations.
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GM Developing Autonomous, Fuel Cell, Multi-Use Platform Called SURUS
General Motors has thought outside the box on this one. Meet SURUS, a fully autonomous platform with 4WD and four-wheel steering powered by a fuel cell. Its name stands for “Silent Utility Rover Universal Superstructure,” and it’s GM’s latest joint project with the United States Army. Unlike diesel-powered trucks, the SURUS produces no noise, smell, or by-product besides purified water. It also isn’t confined to any one job. With a completely bare deck, GM can attach anything from a cab-over crew compartment or a shipping container. Thanks to its fully autonomous driving capability, it doesn’t need a driver and therefore doesn’t need a dedicated cab. This frees up the entire platform to accept an endless number of compatible up-fits.
“SURUS redefines fuel cell electric technology for both highway and off-road environments,” said Charlie Freese, executive director of GM Global Fuel Cell Business. “General Motors is committed to bringing new high-performance, zero-emission systems to solve complex challenges for a variety of customers.” GM is currently readying the SURUS for testing, both with the U.S. military and in commercial applications. SURUS is GM’s second vehicle study of fuel cell applications for the military in recent months. Back in April, the Army began evaluating a fuel cell-powered Chevrolet Colorado ZH2 concept pickup as a possible addition to its field operations. Fuel Cells have the distinct advantage of silent operation while being able to produce electricity for base camp operations with purified water as the only by-product.
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GM Might Regret Saying it Would Take Blame For Autonomous Car Accidents
So, GM say’s it’ll take the heat for crashes involving its level 3 autonomous cars. That’s cool and the gang, but it’s quite possible that the brand spoke a little too soon and it could really come back to bite it right in the ass. How so? Well, when you consider that the month of September alone came with a total of six accidents involving GM’s Cruise Automation Division autonomous cars in the great state of California. To add a bit of an ironic twist, Cruise – which is a division of GM – says none of its cars were actually at fault…. Hmmmm what shoulder are they putting that blame on? After all, there have been 13 accidents involving these cars in California this year too… Okay, maybe we’re talking a little too early here to point out those ironies. According to Cruise, most of the incidents involved drivers of other cars (yes, human, and not AI) running into the autonomous cars that could.
It has been reported that in one case, a guy in a Ford Ranger was playing on his phone and rear-ended one of the self-driving cars. In another instance, a Dodge Charger attempted a risky and illegal overtaking procedure when it scraped the front sensor of the car and took off without the driver even looking in the rearview. There was even one case where a Cruise employee saw an accident in the making – a cyclist that was intoxicated and going in the wrong direction – and attempted to stop, but the cyclist smucked into the little Bolt anyway. Gm’s Cruise division says the new generation of Bolt EVs, which provide level 3 autonomy (think of being on point with Tesla AutoPilot,) but, even if they are, are we ready to share the road with artificial intelligence that is apparently more logical than your typical human driver?
GM Says It’ll Shoulder Blame In Level 3 Autonomous Driving Crashes
Cadillac, under the direction of General Motors, introduced the first enclosed car in 1910; Cadillac debuted the electric starter motor that replaced hand-cranking in 1912; Cadillac then built the first mass-produced V-8 in 1915; and in 1940, GM introduced the first viable automatic transmission. Now in 2017, GM might be making another massive industry advancement that will shape the automotive landscape for the next century, if not beyond. GM says it will take full responsibility if its vehicles crash during autonomous driving.
The news comes from GM’s head of innovation, Warwick Stirling, who spoke with CarAdvice on the subject of autonomous driving and the automaker’s strides in Cadillac’s “Super Cruise” development. Stirling said, [As for] the question of liability, if the driver is not driving, the driver is not liable. The car is driving.” This makes GM the first major automaker to make statements about accepting responsibility for crashes while its self-driving car is operating itself. Volvo has reportedly made similar statements, though the Chinese-owned automaker pales in comparison to GM’s size, deep global reach, and influence. This marks the first breath of clarity on the convoluted subject of liability, and other automakers are likely to follow. However, Stirling points out GM cannot take responsibility for all self-driving vehicle crashes. Read his explanation below.
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The Emissions Drama Continues; GM Accused Of Installing Defeat Devices
Earlier today, we reported how Fiat Chrysler Automobiles was accused of installing defeat devices in roughly 100,000 diesel vehicles to help circumvent emissions standards, a scheme similar to what Volkswagen did in the infamous dieselgate scandal. Now, it’s looking like General Motors is next in line to feel the heat, as a new lawsuit alleges the automaker cheated on more than 700,000 diesel Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra trucks. This latest allegation makes GM the sixth automaker accused of using cheater software since the dieselgate scandal broke in 2015. Affected vehicles include Duramax Diesel Chevrolet Silverados and GMC Sierras between the 2011 and 2016 model years. The lawsuit is currently seeking class-action status, and was filed in U.S. District Count in Detroit in part by Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro, the same firm involved in the VW dieselgate suit.
The lawsuit against GM alleges the damage created by the cheating GM vehicles could even exceed those of the cheating VW’s, with two to five times the legal limit of harmful emissions produced. GM was quick to respond with a statement, saying “These claims are baseless and we will vigorously defend ourselves. The Duramax Diesel Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra comply with all U.S. EPA and CARB emissions regulations.”
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