Cadillac's Super Cruise claims to take the lead on self-driving on the highway
Cadillac is promising that its 2018 CT6 will feature new Super Cruise technology that will make it the leader in hands-free driving on the highway. They are not calling this auto-pilot technology, but more of a self-driving mode coupled with a driver alert system that will keep the driver engaged while self-driving is activated.
According to the automaker, Super Cruise adds a LiDAR mapping system and a driver warning program to the network of cameras and radar sensors that are already being used in the active cruise control systems. Cadillac says the extra LiDAR mapping and driver engagement will set the Super Cruise apart from their competitors.
Cadillac president Johan de Nysschen says in a statement, “Super Cruise™ is a more technologically advanced hands-free driving solution. Cadillac’s philosophy is to elevate driving. Super Cruise™ enables safe, simple hands-free driving for the highway.”
One of the keys of the new Super Cruise is the focus on keeping the driver alert.
According to Cadillac, the driver attention system uses a small camera located on the top of the steering column that focuses exclusively on the driver and works with infrared lights to track head position to determine where the driver is looking whenever Super Cruise™ is in operation.
If the system determines that the driver has turned his attention away from the road for too long, it prompts the driver to refocus on the road. If the driver doesn’t react quickly enough, Super Cruise will continue to steer while it prompts the driver to resume control.
If the driver ignores the warnings, the system escalates the alerts, include audio and visual alerts, as well as alerts in the seats, similar to lane departure alerts.
Cadillac is determined to not let the driver fall asleep, while Super Cruise is engaged. The Super Cruise system could also be a life saver in the event of a medical emergency.
According to Cadillac’s press release, “In the limited event of an unresponsive driver, the Cadillac CT6 utilizes the full capability of onboard driver assistance technologies to bring the car to a controlled stop and contact OnStar to alert first responders, if necessary.”
The main focus of the new Super Cruise system is to allow drivers the ability to take their eyes off the road long enough to complete simple tasks, like adjusting the audio, taking a call or checking the navigation. It is not a true auto-pilot system that would let drivers read a book or work on their computer.
Most of the enhanced cruise control systems only send drivers alerts to encourage them to stay engaged. The 2018 Cadillac CT6 will be the first to continually monitor the driver’s engagement in case they need to resume control of the vehicle.
Because the system depends heavily on LiDAR mapping, it can only be used on divided highways-highways with defined on and off ramps. At the beginning, it will not be set up to navigate intersections, rural roads or city streets.
It will be available as an option on 2018 CT6 premium sedans later this year. No word yet on whether it will be available on other GM premium vehicles.