By on December 3, 2016


General Motors’ futuristic semi-autonomous driving technology now seems tinged with nostalgia.

The automaker’s “Super Cruise” self-driving function was first announced back in September 2014, but the new model many expected to be launched with the feature — the 2016 Cadillac CT6 — showed up without it.

Now, GM plans to debut the feature next year, and a recently intercepted letter from the federal government shows what to expect from the system.

Super Cruise allows drivers to let the vehicle take over some piloting duties on the highway and in traffic, but it’s not a fully autonomous system. It seems to be less capable than Tesla’s old Autopilot, but that could be on purpose. (We all remember the trouble that company’s self-driving system created.)

According to Reuters, a letter sent to GM from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration describes how vehicles equipped with the technology will automatically pull themselves over and stop, hazard lights flashing, if drivers go too hands-off.

The shutdown mode becomes activated if a road becomes too twisty for the system to navigate, or if a driver fails to respond to repeated alerts. Still, the country’s road safety regulator worried about the shutdown process. In its letter, NHTSA asked GM to “ensure that this fallback solution does not pose an unreasonable risk to safety.”

It seems that the shutdown mode is a drowsy driver’s best friend. A GM spokesperson told Reuters that Super Cruise includes facial recognition technology that issues alerts to prod a distracted or drowsy driver back to awareness. The alerts include a flashing gauge cluster light, seat vibrations, an audible warning, and eventually the voice of an OnStar representative.

If there’s no response, it’s assumed the driver is incapacitated and the system activates shutdown mode.

Barring another setback, expect to see Super Cruise offered on a Cadillac model sometime in 2017.

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28 Comments on “GM’s ‘Super Cruise’ Continues Its Slow Plod to Production...”

  • avatar

    Cadillac teased the El Miraj and then came to market with this frumpy, dumpy placeholder of a “flagship.”

    It looks like a lwb CTS whose front headlamp assembly received an overdose of botox.


  • avatar

    If I acquired a new CT6 I would emblazon the trunk and side panels with block S E V I L L E letters. Better than LaSalle, anyway.
    Proper name like that over any alphanumeric nonsense.
    Now strictly numeric is fine, as in 442!

    • 0 avatar

      Those with the most common 2.0T 4 banger CT6 “flagships” should debadge them & put these on:

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        Actually, it’s not most common at all. The 3.6-liter N/A V6 is the volume engine by far, with the premium 3.0TT coming in second place for production numbers, and the 2.0T at a distant third. I suspect that when the plug-in hybrid debuts, it will also be produced in higher numbers than the 2.0T.

        It’s weird because, like you said, the CT6 isn’t a flagship like the other full-sized RWD sedans. It’s hierarchically just a long-wheelbase CTS (soon to be CT5). In that regard, it’s a little less insulting to see a four-cylinder here.

        I do think the CT6 was a pointless car and the Continental has considerably-more presence, despite its plebeian CD4.x roots, but I don’t think Cadillac is seriously trying to market it as an S-Class / A8 / 7-Series fighter.

        • 0 avatar
          heavy handle

          I disagree. I think that Cadillac is aiming for the S-Class’s share of the livery market, in which case the 2.0T makes perfect sense.

          It’s a reliable-enough engine which should have low running costs. The paying customers in the back seat don’t need 400 HP.

        • 0 avatar

          The 3.6 is a decent enough lump. I get 6 sec 0-60 in a heavy car, and while it will never be an I-6, it has a nice snarl when you redline it. It puts out more than most “muscle cars” back in the day. My only powertrain complaint is a trans that occasionally calls a committee to select a gear, but it is a GM car so I’m not surprised :)

          Caddy keeps trying to hit them where they aren’t. My 2G CTS is between 3 and 5, so I have have a really big 3, but with a back seat not quite 5, which you really want in this class. Six footers aren’t quite comfortable, but should be. The CT6 should have been the CTS-L (now coming with extra length !) and the CT-8 should have been a true S class competitor.

          Instead, ATS, a super off lease bargain at 20k and small enough I can stomach the blown four, CTS which is now anonymous and over priced, and CT6 which is sort of lost.

          I still like the idea of the ATS-V, and would love to drive one. A CTS VSport (my 3.6 with turbos and 420 hp) also looks fun, but I’ve never seen one in the wild, even here in the land of mostly new cars. The V is silly wonderful but you could sell a lot more of the DD practical VSports if you actually stocked and sold them.

          Tesla is pushing the tech and has an unusual customer demographic for a car company. The General knows the level of “hold my beer and watch this !” that the cars will see in the worst case real world, so they have to be a LOT more careful.

        • 0 avatar

          “Actually, it’s not most common at all.”

          Where do facts belong in a rant against Cadillac? Or Lincoln for that matter? They don’t. They simply are not important. You can make up whatever you want, as long as its rude, critical and smacks of undeserved smugness.

          • 0 avatar

            It’s turning out that 93% of people who were going to purchase a Mercedes S Class will purchase a Lincoln Continental, instead.

            Ford RULEZZZ!!!

      • 0 avatar

        The 4-bangers? No, they should just go straight to Cimarron.

  • avatar

    What if there’s nowhere or no way to safely pull over like on a long bridge, narrow two-lane, middle of multiple packed lanes..etc?

  • avatar
    Sorted Corty

    The long and perilous road to autonomy. GM has always moved at a very cautious pace, even post-bankruptcy, so this is really not a surprise. Dumb name though. And really it should have a little talking head in the dash to help with the driving. He could also help with navigation and notice if you are drunk. I think people would like a little guy in there to reassure them that someone is driving – not just a “black box” somewhere in the dash…

  • avatar

    There are many pie in the sky promises being made in regard to these autonomous driving technologies. Reality sooner or later needs to set in. What happens when the autonomous car happens upon a horse drawn carriage? What happens when the thing comes around a blind corner/curve and encounters a tree branch or a rock? What does it do when deer or elk or moose are standing alongside the road (i.e. does it slow down to anticipate the possibility of the animal stepping onto the road?)? How does an autonomous vehicle pull a boat trailer or camping trailer or ATV trailer (or will all recreational vehicle trailers be outlawed in order to accommodate the autonomous cars?)? The same question applies to horse trailers and to equipment trailers and to all other trailers. It seems those pushing for autonomous vehicles don’t spend a lot of time living with / interacting with real world driving situations because if they did they’d know better the realities faced by real people driving on real roads. Cadillac/GM, at least, seems to understand the need to move very very slowly when implementing these technologies. Because, in the real world, these systems are most likely going to have very limited applications.

    • 0 avatar

      Some of the school zones in my area are “20 mph when children are present”. Let’s see an autonomous car figure that out. Sure, eventually they will, but it’s off a bit in the future.

      • 0 avatar
        heavy handle

        Autonomous cars won’t “figure it out” per-se. They will have this information programmed into their navigation data. That’s why Google and others are spending small fortunes photographing every road in the world.

        US traffic laws are a lot less complicated than US sales tax laws. data providers will have no problem keeping-up if there’s money to be made.

        • 0 avatar

          There is no room for error. For those interested, on a nice Spring-time day, find a tall office building which has a large plaza area outside of its main entrance. During lunch-time, find a bench that gives you good view of the plaza. Watch the people as they navigate their way through the plaza. Notice that, as a couple thousand people walk through the plaza, none of them bump into each other. Even those who are distracted by cell phone texting don’t bump into anybody (not because the distracted individual avoids collisions but instead because the other folks make adjustments to avoid the cell phone users). The so-called fuzzy logic that allows this type of chaotic system to work (with a low rate of error) is what needs to be implemented in autonomous cars. And it needs to be flawless because human lives are at stake.

          A system that relies mostly on photographic records contained in a database is not the answer. There is too much room for error since there will always be a delay between a change that occurs to the environment and the update that is made to the database. The delay (even if it is only a matter of hours) is long enough to cost human lives.

          • 0 avatar

            @funky: You’re totally right. There’s also the need to replicate human intuition. I’m in the trenches working on this stuff, although taking a safer approach and focusing more on robotics within a building. Perfecting the technology at 2 or 3 mph in a smaller robot rather than making the leap to higher speeds with human lives at stake. At the same time, doing some work focused on predicting behavior out on the road. Rather than react to problems, we want to anticipate potential problems.

      • 0 avatar

        The system is aware of pedestrians. The car will just slow down for short people.

    • 0 avatar

      I would love to see how self driving car engineers think they can handle limited visibility, and snow and ice and slush on the road. If you can build a self driving system that can handle a raging blizzard, then I might be convinced.

  • avatar

    “. A GM spokesperson told Reuters that Super Cruise includes facial recognition technology that issues alerts to prod a distracted or drowsy driver back to awareness.”


    Seems ironically appropriate that a system designed to disengage a driver from the act of driving then has to be capable of alerting the driver it has just put to sleep.

    This whole self driving car thing has never made any sense to me at all. Count me out. Anything past cruise control is overkill.

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