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article imageOp-Ed: Vibrating seats to expand, GM 2014 trucks will have haptic seats Special

By Elizabeth Parker     May 6, 2013 in Technology
In 2012 GM released "haptic seat technology" on many 2013 Cadillac models causing many tongue in cheek articles about the vibrating seats. GM, sticking to its enhanced safety goals, will release the safety feature on the GM truck lines this year.
No seats are not getting larger to accommodate our growing bodies and vibrating to relax our over worked muscles, GM is expanding its Haptic Seat Technology safety feature, reported in PickupTrucks.com, currently only available in the Cadillac models to the Sierra and Silverado truck lines for the 2014 release expected to arrive on car lots this summer.
When GM announced last year it was releasing vibrating seats on the coming 2013 Cadillac brand, as reported by GizMag, there was several tongue in cheek articles written about the seats, such as this article at Gizmodo touting the safety release and teasing about just straddling the lanes to get a massage. GM is sticking to its guns and desire to make driving safer. As reported in GM's media release
"According to Kiefer, GM research shows that the seat may direct driver attention to the location of a crash threat more quickly and accurately than beeping alerts."
Front quarter view of the 2014 Sierra GM Truck
Front quarter view of the 2014 Sierra GM Truck
GM Media Release Photos
After hearing they were releasing the seats on the truck line for 2014 I thought I would go check out the seats myself and see how startling they actually are when driving along.
The 2014 GM sierra view compared to the 2013 view from GM media release.
The 2014 GM sierra view compared to the 2013 view from GM media release.
GM Media Release
Ed Davis, of the Munroe, NC, Hendrick Chevrolet Cadillac was very accommodating and knowledgeable about the haptic seat system and other safety features of the Driver Alert Package that is available on several of the current Cadillac models and coming in the trucks this summer. He was happy to take me out for a test drive and let me see what the tactile safety feature feels like when it engages. Ed and I went out in the Cadillac SRX which had the full driver alert package.
The system uses both sensors strategically placed around the vehicle and a sensing camera mounted on the windshield, unobtrusively behind the rear view mirror. The back up sensors work with the seats to vibrate the right side when you are backing and start to approach a car on your right, the left side vibrates when veering to an object on your left while backing or the the seat vibrates center rear when an object is directly behind you. I was able to test this while just backing into a parking spot. The vibration is not overly jarring but definitely felt and works in conjunction with the back up camera, an audible beep and non obtrusive dashboard lights. You can turn off the seat function if you choose to though I did not find it at all jarring or annoying.
I did not back out in front of on coming vehicles to test if it would alert me to their proximity but it is part of what the haptic seat vibration is designed for. When backing out of a parking spot, the sensors will pick up an approaching vehicle from either side and then alert you with both the dash board zone lighting and the seat will vibrate on the side a vehicle is approaching from. I did find I often missed the small dashboard lighting display which the steering wheel position could block from view, so the seat vibrating was the first alert I felt and then I would notice the light display on the dash also showing the zone where an object was to be avoided.
When I went in to see Ed I was really skeptical as to the need of even more safety awareness items but after testing it and speaking with Ed I do feel the seat system does add to safety and did not engage when I wouldn't want it too. My test drive did not take me out of town to reach the 35 mph necessary to feel it engage while changing lanes without a signal, and I did learn it will not engage at lower speeds. You still need to watch what is in front of you. When driving along it did not startle me or engage when vehicles passed me, but Ed assures me it will alert me if someone sits in my blind spot.
Ed also tells me, "The system is about making driving safer, you have to be engaged, it's not a replacement for your alertness but to assist you and help you notice what is happening sooner". Other points Ed mentions about the system is it will slow you down if you are on cruise control and a vehicle slows quickly in front of you or is travelling slower in front of you and it will maintain your speed with their speed. If a vehicle comes up on you fast from behind the alert system will also warn you. As the system wasn't constantly going off, my experience says it will work well to alert you without being overly sensitive to other passing vehicles.
It is unlikely I would pay to add the seats alone to my vehicle, as I don't tend to be a long haul driver or spend so many hours on the road I find my self sleepy but I would not turn it off it came on the vehicle. As an integrated package with all its features allowing for far more then a vibrating seat, but also sensing rain on your window shield which adjusts your wiper speed faster and slower, back up sensors for parking, and as part of the existing driver awareness light and sound package, I could certainly see opting for the system as a whole in my vehicle. As a whole I found it both a convenience and safer without being intrusive to my driving experience.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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