Even though Tesla, Apple and Google capture more media attention for autonomous vehicle technology, GM CEO Mary Barra believes that her company is a real industry leader. While some might be laughing at her bravado, Barra and her cadre are playing their cards close to the vest right now. It might turn out that everyone is wowed in the near future as GM makes some dramatic reveals.
During a recent interview with USA Today, Barra deftly answered questions about autonomous vehicle technology and many other subjects, both pertaining to the automotive industry and the global economy. When pressed about her confidence in GM’s leadership role, she cited the upcoming Cadillac Super Cruise, saying that the feature that launches next year will allow drivers to remove their hands from the steering wheel and their feet from the pedals. Barra also disclosed that the company is working on a “creative” method for keeping the driver engaged in what the car’s doing in autonomous mode, but didn’t elaborate on how.
When it comes to autonomous car technology, GM’s future plans are mostly enshrouded in secrecy. Barra did state that at one of the company’s test facilities there is an entire fleet of autonomous Chevrolet Volts, showing that the automaker is forward-thinking.
Barra pointed out that autonomous vehicle tech is so young that many companies can claim leadership positions in the field, even though they’re only trailblazing in certain aspects. She hinted that unlike some competitors, GM is working hard at a comprehensive solution, but wouldn’t get into specifics.
She also commented on Uber, essentially saying that GM is staying light on its feet and concentrating on giving consumers the kind of flexibility they want. Barra also stated that she has high respect for Apple CEO Tim Cook. When pressed about Elon Musk, she highlighted the differences between the two companies, emphasizing how niche and small Tesla Motors is.
According to Barra, GM is working hard to protect against vehicle hackers. When asked if she’s concerned about the threat, instead of laughing it off as nothing, she called hackers a “real concern” and said that her company is using the military and aerospace as benchmarks for their connectivity designs.