Several months ago, a camo-clad 2020 Cadillac CT4 prototype was spied undergoing some real-world testing. Nothing terribly unusual about that, except for one detail: the prototype had a long metal shaft sticking out from underneath the front bumper with a weird-looking device stuck to it. The contraption looked like a plastic weathervane attached to a telescoping pole. We weren’t too sure what it was, but as recently uncovered by our sister publication, Cadillac Society, the contraption is apparently a device used to measure crosswinds.
Crosswinds are powerful gusts of wind that move laterally to the vehicle’s direction of travel, which can effectively push the car left or right within its lane. Crosswinds are usually referenced with regard to landing aircraft, but they can also apply to the automotive world, and are particularly impactful on slippery roads. Crosswinds can be naturally occurring, or result from a nearby passing vehicle, such as a large truck zooming by in the opposite lane.
According to Cadillac Society’s engineering sources, the device on this 2020 Cadillac CT4 prototype is used to either develop or calibrate a driver assist feature that works to counteract the effects of a crosswind. Essentially, once a crosswind is detected, the system will apply the appropriate counteractive inputs to keep the sedan centered in its lane.
It’s believed this system will pair with the onboard Lane Keep Assist feature and interact with the electronic steering, adaptive suspension, and electronic stability control.
Crosswinds can definitely be dangerous, especially on tight roads with lots of traffic, so it makes sense that Cadillac would develop an electronic system to counteract their effects. After all, there are so many other electronic systems for safety purposes already in place for the 2020 Cadillac CT4, from automatic braking to blind spot monitors.
As an interesting aside, prior to the proliferation of digital automotive systems, GM would actually test how a car would handle strong crosswinds by strapping a rocket to a tester’s fender. Granted, there were no electronic steering assist countermeasures back then, but lighting off a rocket would certainly provide a good test of how the car could handle strong lateral forces!