The flying cars promised by science fiction aren’t quite ready yet, but automakers like General Motors have a pretty acceptable consolation prize — a smart, self-driving, self-parking car that, equipped with a wealth of sensors and communications equipment, aims to make auto accidents a thing of the past.
For GM, much of the technology needed for the vehicle of the future is being developed at its Israel research and development facility.
“The technologies that will power autonomous vehicles including smart sensing, vision imaging, human machine interface, wifi and 4G/LTE communications, and much of that is being done at our Herzliya facility, in conjunction with GM’s other R&D facility in Silicon Valley,” said Gil Golan, director of GM’s Advanced Technical Center in Israel. “The industry is being driven by customer preference and demand, and in order to keep up, we need to develop these technologies and ensure we are meeting customer demand. To stay on top of the market you have to be versatile, and the Israel ATC helps the company to do that.”
The GM that emerged from bankruptcy in 2009 to profitability in 2011, 2012, and (so far) 2013 — after its huge 2011 IPO, one of the five biggest in history — is a good lesson in how a company can be versatile. The company dropped some brands (Pontiac, Oldsmobile, Saturn, and others), brought back others (Corvette, Silverado and Impala) that had good sales histories, reduced its workforce, and aggressively diversified into growth markets like China. The result is a smaller, leaner company that has seen sales grow, especially in the past year.