Cadillac announced that it will begin offering the Super Cruise technology that they have worked on for a few years. It will reach the market as an option on the 2018 CT6 Prestige. This technology is promoted as being the first true hands-free driving technology for the highway. Some might question this assertion given all the press given to Tesla’s Autopilot and other self-driving systems in Mercedes, BMW, and even Infiniti – but given that Tesla terms their technology as a ‘beta’ and other luxury makers need hands on the wheel (taking your hands away will cancel other self-driving systems) – the fully hands-off auto driving is truly new.
In order to maintain a minimum level of driver engagement, Cadillac has added a monitoring system that watches to confirm that the driver is heads-up and looking at the road ahead. This is to ensure that the driver is available to take over if the route takes the car off of a well mapped road or if the technology gets confused.
If the driver’s attention is away from the road for too long, the system will engage multiple visual alerts, the Safety Alert Seat, and audio alerts to get the driver to re-engage. If, after all of these techniques have failed, the car is able to bring itself to a controlled halt and contact OnStar (the assumption being that the driver needs medical attention at that point).
Interestingly, Cadillac’s system relies not only on intelligent cruise sensors, GPS, and camera technology. GM has added an on-board LiDAR system that, with a detailed LiDAR map of all limited use highways in the US and Canada – provides a level of safety and predictability missing in other systems. Because of the LiDAR map requirement of your route, Super Cruise is only able to be activated on these limited access highways (divided highways with well-defined on and off-ramps). However, this does suggest that future maps could increase the environments where Super Cruise can be used.
Here is a short video from Cadillac describing the system:
…and, if that isn’t enough, read on for Cadillac’s press release about the 2018 CT6 and it’s Super Cruise option.