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Cadillac XTS is First Car to Send Safety Alerts to Your Butt

There are audio signals if you forget to buckle up; you may get voice reminders for scheduled maintenance via the car entertainment system; you may have a virtual assistant that can determine whether you are tired or not and wake you up; there are lane departure warning signals -- and a whole plethora more -- that has found its way into modern cars. Cadillac will be first to use your bottom to provide an additional layer for the already sophisticated warning system in its upcoming XTS luxury sedan.

For example, if the camera system realizes that the vehicle is drifting to the left without an activated turning signal, the XTS will be leveraging its "safety alert seat" to send a "haptic" signal to the driver. Available as part of the "driver awareness package" the system covers forward collision alert, lane departure warning, side blind zone alert and rear cross traffic alert. Buyers of the car can also order a separate "driver assist package", which includes adaptive cruise control, automatic collision preparation, and front and rear automatic braking systems. Following the introduction of the XTS, the safety alert seat will also be an option on the smaller ATS sedan and the SRX crossover.

Cadillac says that the system works similar to a person tapping on someone's shoulder to raise attention. Research has apparently shown that the seat "may direct driver attention to the location of a crash threat more quickly and accurately than beeping alerts."

Most luxury vehicle companies are offering safety systems that suggest that technology may be able to drive a car on its own. Intelligent cruise control technology automatically applies brakes down to a stop - and gradually accelerates a vehicle again to a preset speed. Some companies even offer traffic sign recognition system that automatically sets the cruise control to the speed limit. Camera systems monitor the boundaries of a road and lane departure avoidance systems can use braking on one side of the vehicle to pull it back to the center of a road if it is on a path to leave the road without a turning signal. However, we were told by representatives of Infiniti and GM that there are no intentions to replace the driver with technology anytime soon. At least at this time, a human driver is still believed to be more capable than a computer.