metro >> cover story
Local engineer's expertise helps guide GM's SuperCruise project.
Barbara Lewis I Contributing Writer
CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1
the lane and braking if traffic slows down
or if another car cuts in.
SuperCruise works on highways, not
surface streets, as long as the lane mark-
ings are visible. It will work at any speed,
even in stop-and-go traffic.
Other auto manufacturers are working
on similar automated driving systems.
Everyone has access to the same sensors,
radars and GPS systems, Salinger said. But
he believes GM has the edge.
On The Leading Edge
Others agree. Last October, Popular
Mechanics magazine named GM one of
10 winners of its annual Breakthrough
Awards for innovators who changed the
world. The winners were featured in the
November issue of the magazine. Salinger
and several others on the GM team went
to New York for an awards presentation at
the Hearst Tower.
"Right now it appears GM is likely to be
the first to market with a real-world vehi-
cle said Popular Mechanics Editor-in-Chief
Jim Meigs in an interview with the Business
Insider blog. "SuperCruise doesn't claim to
offer fully autonomous operation, and the
fact is our legal and physical infrastructures
aren't ready for that anyway."
With SuperCruise, the driver still needs
to pay attention — no taking a nap or tex-
ting while the car is in SuperCruise mode.
GM is still working on the "secret sauce"
in the system that will detect if the driver
falls asleep or becomes distracted, Salinger
Still, SuperCruise will make driving
more enjoyable. "You'll be able to relax a
little more than you would otherwise," he
"Theoretically, you'll be able to get on
1-75 in Michigan, put your car into a lane
you like and let SuperCruise drive you all
the way to Florida," Salinger said.
He says "theoretically" because in reality
no one lane goes all that way. Not to men-
tion that no one can drive from Michigan
to Florida without stopping to rest or
answer a call of nature. If the driver wants
to change lanes, to pass a slower car for
example, he or she has to take control, and
if the car leaves the freeway, even for an
exit ramp, the system turns off.
The idea of a self-driving car is nothing
new. In 1939, the "Futurama" exhibit at the
New York World's Fair (sponsored by GM)
featured cars that could drive themselves.
The cars were powered by electric circuits
8 April 24 • 2014
CADILLAC DEVELOPING "SUPER CRUISE"
"Super Cruise" does full-speed range adaptive cruise control and
lane centering, using cameras and other sensors to automatically
steer and brake in highway driving.
embedded in the roadway and were con-
trolled by radio signals.
Standard cruise control appeared in
the 1960s. It took many years for the
next big advance in automated driving.
"Adaptive cruise control" includes a radar
that detects obstacles in front of the car
and slows the vehicle automatically, but
it disengages at speeds below 25 mph.
Mitsubishi introduced it in Japan in 1995;
GM first offered it on the Cadillac XLR in
"Full-speed, range-adaptive cruise con-
trol," available in Cadillacs since 2013,
works at all speeds.
With six radars, two cameras and ultra-
sonic sensors, today's Cadillac has other
options that feed into SuperCruise, like
rear parking assist, which not only beeps
when it detects an obstacle behind a car
that's backing up, it also stops the car if the
The National Highway Traffic Safety
Agency has established five levels of car-
Level 0: The driver completely controls
the vehicle at all times.
Level 1: Individual vehicle controls are
automated, such as electronic stability
control or automatic braking.
Level 2: At least two controls can be
automated in unison, such as adaptive
cruise control in combination with lane
Level 3: The driver can fully cede con-
trol of all safety-critical functions in cer-
tain conditions. The car senses when con-
ditions require the driver to retake control
and provides a "sufficiently comfortable
transition time" for the driver to do so.
Salinger, right, with Gil Golan, director
of the GM Advanced Technical Center
in Israel, where Salinger is participat-
ing in an exchange program for the
Level 4: The vehicle performs all safety-
critical functions for the entire trip with
the driver not expected to control the
vehicle at any time. As this vehicle would
control all functions from start to stop,
including all parking functions, it could
include unoccupied cars.
Until now, no auto manufacturer has
combined speed control with steering
GM took a great leap forward in 2007
when, in partnership with Carnegie
Mellon University, it won the DARPA
Urban Challenge, an automatic driving
competition sponsored by the Defense
Advanced Research Projects Agency.
Dozens of driverless cars entered the
competition but only 11 made it to the
finals. They competed on a 55-mile course
built at a former military base to simulate
an urban environment. Competitors had
to pass various checkpoints, park, avoid
obstacles and obey all traffic laws.
Only six vehicles completed the course
in the requisite six hours — and the win-
ner was the GM-Carnegie Mellon team's
vehicle, a heavily modified Chevy Tahoe
nicknamed "The Boss."
"The Boss" was not commercially viable,
but it proved that driverless cars are tech-
nologically feasible, Salinger said.
Salinger graduated from Southfield High
School and Oakland University, earned a
master's in electrical and computer engi-
neering at Wayne State and a Ph.D. in
electrical engineering systems from the
University of Michigan.
He's a lifelong member and former
trustee of Congregation Beth Shalom in
Oak Park. He attended Habonim Camp
Tavor in Three Rivers, Mich., as a child
and later served on its board of directors.
He is active with the Zionist organization
Ameinu, serving as local chapter president
and a member of the national board.
He began working on adaptive cruise
control about 10 years ago when he
worked for a GM contractor, ERIM, in
Ann Arbor. At GM, where he's worked
for seven years, he has been part of the
SuperCruise team since its inception.
In January, Salinger began an eight-
month exchange assignment with GM in
Israel. He's managing one of the lab groups
in Israel with a goal of maximizing the
group's contribution to innovation at GM.
GM has approximately 60 staff in Israel.
At the same time, Ran Gazit, a GM engi-
neer from Israel, came to Michigan. He is
living in Bloomfield Hills until his assign-
ment ends in August.
Salinger's wife, Vicki, was unable to join
him in Israel for the entire eight months
because of obligations to grandchildren
and their black lab, Darwin. So Salinger
worked out an arrangement that lets him
return to Detroit periodically for a few
weeks each time. He was here most recent-
ly for Passover.
What's next on the road to automatic
While SuperCruise is a huge advance,
the system needs good road conditions to
operate. GM will continue to work on cars
that can operate on more challenging sur-
faces and on city streets as well as on high-
ways. Insurance and legal issues also need
to be addressed before fully automatic cars
become a reality.
"There's a lot more to do," Salinger