General Motors is testing several prototypes from its Cadillac range equipped with electronic monitoring systems that look out for surrounding vehicles and can apply the brakes autonomously to prevent a rear-end collision. GM demonstrated the technology using its CTS and STS sedans at the recent Convergence conference in Detroit.

The test involved one car heading towards the rear of another car parked at the end of a long straight. Initially, warning lights and alerts sounded in the approaching car to warn the driver, and then the brakes and lights of the waiting car started to flash. Finally, when it seemed that a crash was imminent, the automatic braking system kicked in bringing the car to a complete halt.

GM’s system incorporates existing technologies including a combination of global positioning navigation devices, short-distance radio communication and input from existing in-vehicle sensors. GM is not alone in the development of such safety devices. There’s a rapid movement towards safety technology from both vehicle suppliers and manufacturers, however, we’re still several years away from seeing mainstream vehicles equipped with such features.