Cadillac’s Super Cruise: Self-Driving Done Right?

Self-driving technology continues to develop faster than auto writers can report on it.

Tesla’s AutoPilot has paved the way for autonomous driving, but it may have an Achilles’ heel: Drivers tend to get lazy and forget that they need to continue keeping an eye on the road. If the system fails, which has happened at least a few times, drivers get caught off guard and unable to quickly respond.

Cadillac began working on an autonomous driving system called “Super Cruise” about five years ago and finally has it ready to debut on the upcoming CT6 sedan.

Will GM’s system show Tesla how autonomy is done?

Cadillac’s system combines all the tools in GM’s kit, including OnStar, adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring, lane monitoring, and self-steering. While it’s not quite at the point of letting you program a destination into Maps and then enjoy the ride, it does have a feature that other autonomous systems lack.

Forbes describes it like this:

For added safety, Super Cruise includes something Tesla’s controversial Autopilot system lacks, namely a driver attention system that keeps an electric eye on a motorist’s head position via a steering wheel-mounted camera to ensure he or she is properly and prudently monitoring the road and is ready to re-take control of the vehicle if necessary. Should the driver be caught, say, reading a book or is applying makeup while in Super Cruise mode, the system will give a series of audible, tactile (via Caddy’s vibrating “Safety Alert Seat”), and visual warnings to advise him or her to refocus on the task at hand. If after continued warnings the system determines the motorist is unresponsive, it will bring the vehicle to a controlled stop and, if necessary, contact first responders via the car’s OnStar telematics system.

The system also includes a  LiDAR-scanned map of the entire U.S. and Canada highway systems, which gives Super Cruise the ability to foresee sharp turns and inclines. However, Cadillac has programmed its system to work only on limited-access freeways, meaning it can’t be turned on during city driving or on winding rural highways.

Super Cruise will be available on the 2018 CT6 but, like all new technology, will be refined and most likely trickle down to other GM models.

Are you ready to trust your car to do the driving?

-tgriffith

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