How any bridge, much less the Brooklyn Bridge, could help refine a radar-based driver assistance system isn't immediately obvious, but that's what Cadillac used to refine the systems set to go into the 2013 XTS and ATS sedans.

Radar obstacle detection can be a tricky thing--it's easy to get false positives, to be tricked into seeing something that's not there because of the shape or movement of the car's surroundings. That's where the Brooklyn Bridge came into play.

Heavy traffic volume and the bridge's intricate metal design itself provided a sort of torture test for the system, where the engineers worked to weed out the false information while holding onto the sensor data necessary to keep the car--and its occupants--safe.

“We have to try and anticipate every scenario, especially those that really challenge the technology,” said Jim Nickolaou, Cadillac's lead engineer for sensor fusion. “We tune the systems to discern actual obstacles from other things in the vicinity that should not cause a warning or braking action.”

Cadillac's 'Sensor Fusion' ties in various inputs to provide a wider range of safety assists

Cadillac's 'Sensor Fusion' ties in various inputs to provide a wider range of safety assists

The systems that will go into the two newest models from Cadillac are called Driver Awareness and Driver Assist, rolled into the Driver Assist Package. The technology suite includes automatic collision prevention, lane departure warning, and front/rear automatic braking. So-called "Super Cruise," not yet ready for production but already made possible through this tech, allows Cadillac to handle highway driving without driver input, combining automatic steering, braking, and speed control.

Radar also ties into the "sensor fusion" concept through the alert system, part of which includes the Safety Alert Seat, which vibrates to let the driver know there's a potential hazard on the road.