Cadillac's Super Cruise is Super Late, Takes Aim at Autopilot

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis
cadillac s super cruise is super late takes aim at autopilot

Cadillac announced its autonomous driving system Super Cruise is ready and will be available this fall. The system, designed to compete directly with Tesla’s Autopilot, will first appear on the Cadillac CT6.

It doesn’t sound like GM has pulled any punches. Super Cruise is touting some serious features.

Cadillac has been road testing this technology since early 2012. At that time, fully automated steering, lane-centering, and braking were promised for highway use under certain conditions. Details were scarce then, but the press release indicated Super Cruise could be ready by mid-decade.

Cadillac almost made its deadline, sort of.

Cadillac today released details on this production-ready version of Super Cruise, and Cadillac head Johan de Nysschen had some things to say:

Cadillac’s philosophy is to elevate driving. Super Cruise enables safe, simple hands-free driving for the highway.

The first claim is a big one, citing Super Cruise as “the industry’s first true hands-free driving technology.”

Utilizing a system of cameras, sensors, and mapping, drivers will be able to remove their hands from the wheel during highway driving. But don’t get too many ideas, as there’s a driver attention system on board. To make sure there are no in-car shenanigans (or climbing into the back seat like in earlier Autopilot videos), the CT6 has a camera monitoring the driver to ensure their attention remains on the road and their ass remains in the seat. The camera resides on top of the dashboard and uses infrared lights to monitor driver head position to see where the driver is looking. If the driver is wandering in mind or spirit, the CT6 pulls some Knight Rider tricks.

An escalating series of events will befall the attention-deficit driver, starting with a light bar on the steering wheel and indicator lights within the cluster. The second round will trigger audible alerts — Michael, I’m warning you! — and activate the Safety Alert Seat [s]which ejects the driver from the car[/s], which vibrates even more thoroughly than your latest text message.

But maybe those warnings didn’t work, so it’s time for stage three. When the CT6 has had enough of your tomfoolery or heart attacks, Super Cruise can bring the car to a halt, while simultaneously using OnStar to contact the appropriate authorities for help when necessary.

Built into Super Cruise is a precision LIDAR system, which Cadillac says is an industry first. The scanned map database works with real-time data from the cameras and GPS sensors in the car, governing use of the system. All inputs combine to determine the right road conditions to allow Super Cruise’s activation. The system can be used only on divided highways with defined on and off ramps. City streets, intersections, and rural roads are a no-go at this time.

Impressively, General Motors hired engineers to create the LIDAR map specifically for the Super Cruise system, who then plotted every mile of limited-access highway in the United States and Canada. The GPS in the car is an advanced one, with a claim of four to eight times more precision than regular GPS.

Chief engineer on Super Cruise Barry Walkup would seem to have bigger plans for future usage, per his statement buried at the bottom of the press release.

While it is technically possible for the technology to drive hands-free on other kinds of streets and roads, we feel strongly that this targeted approach is the best to build consumer and regulatory confidence and enthusiasm for advanced mobility.

Full autonomy is coming, citizens. Be patient.

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5 of 44 comments
  • V-Strom rider V-Strom rider on Apr 10, 2017

    So remind me again - what's the point of a system that let's you stop driving but expects you to concentrate as if you are driving? Maybe I'm missing something but I don't see the benefit for the consumer - you might as well just drive. When I can get into the passenger seat and go for a ride, then I'll see the benefit of a genuinely autonomous system.

    • See 1 previous
    • V-Strom rider V-Strom rider on Apr 11, 2017

      @arach All true - the technology becomes a crutch and when it fails we can't walk! 2015 V-Strom 650 (my second Wee-Strom) on which I did a ten week 21,485km (c13,500 mile) solo round Australia ride last year. Brilliant machine and what an experience!

  • Wodehouse Wodehouse on Apr 11, 2017

    I love that this is named "Super Cruise" In fact, I'd love it if Cadillac would ditch the "CT6" part (see how lame it sounds next to "Super Cruise"?) altogether and call this meh-looking car Super Cruise, though, I suppose Chevy may have something to say about that.

    • Carguy67 Carguy67 on Apr 11, 2017

      "Super Cruise" means one thing and one thing only: The ability to fly at supersonic speed without afterburners. Does this Caddy even have afterburners?

  • Inside Looking Out You should care. With GM will die America. All signs are there. How about the Arsenal of Democracy? Toyota?
  • DenverMike What else did anyone think, when GM was losing tens of billions a year, year after year?
  • Bill Wade GM says they're killing Android Auto and Apple Carplay. Any company that makes decisions like that is doomed to die.
  • Jeff S I don't believe gm will die but that it will continue to shrink in product and market share and it will probably be acquired by a foreign manufacturer. I doubt gm lacks funds as it did in 2008 and that they have more than enough cash at hand but gm will not expand as it did in the past and the emphasis is more on profitability and cutting costs to the bone. Making gm a more attractive takeover target and cut costs at the expense of more desirable and reliable products. At the time of Farago's article I was in favor of the Government bailout more to save jobs and suppliers but today I would not be in favor of the bailout. My opinions on gm have changed since 2008 and 2009 and now I really don't care if gm survives or not.
  • Kwik_Shift I was a GM fan boy until it ended in 2013 when I traded in my Avalanche to go over to Nissan.