Hot on the heels of last week's announcement that Nissan would bring autonomous cars to showrooms within seven years comes word from General Motors that it plans to offer its own lineup of autonomous cars by the year 2020.
The 2020 deadline seems firm; the problem is the "autonomous" part. According to CBS, GM's cars for the 2020 model year will be "almost autonomous", offering lane-assist, brake-assist, adaptive cruise control, and other features, but stopping short of what we'd call completely autonomous.
That said, "almost autonomous" is nothing to sneeze at. Autonomous vehicles -- whether operating on their own or in a vehicle-to-vehicle environment -- will almost certainly scale down the number of automobile accidents and cut the number of fatalities even further. (The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration claims that a true vehicle-to-vehicle system could reduce accidents by as much as 81 percent.)
GM's semi-autonomous system is called "Super Cruise", and it debuted back in April. Rumor had it that Super Cruise would become available "in the near term", but that hasn't quite panned out. However, the company's tests have apparently gone well enough that GM feels comfortable assigning the technology a more definitive date of arrival.
GM expects Super Cruise to debut on its high-end Cadillac models, but the technology should roll out to Buick, Chevrolet, and GMC vehicles over time. As for fully autonomous vehicles, GM shoppers may have to wait a bit longer -- though Nissan and Google fans could get their hands on such rides sooner.