By on April 10, 2017

2017 Cadillac CT6 3.0TT - Image: © Timothy Cain/The Truth About Cars

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 Super Cruise

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.

Cadillac Super Cruise, Light Bar

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 which ejects the driver from the car, 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.

Cadillac Super Cruise, Camera

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.

Cadillac Super Cruise

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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44 Comments on “Cadillac’s Super Cruise is Super Late, Takes Aim at Autopilot...”

  • avatar

    Can the driver rest their hands on the wheel at all? That’s one thing I like about autosteer in a tractor–turning the wheel manually disengages autosteer, but it takes more than just a light touch, so you can safely rest one hand on the suicide knob like normal. (While the other hand browses dank memes.)

    • 0 avatar
      Corey Lewis

      There was no info there which indicated you *had* to have hands off the wheel for it to work.

      • 0 avatar

        Right, but unlike a tractor, a car steering wheel still has to be physically connected to the steered wheels. (Tractors haven’t had a physical connection between the steering wheel and the front wheels for over 50 years.) So any driver movement of the steering wheel could possibly transmit to the front wheels and override the autopilot. Between that and the publicity shot of the driver with his hands in his lap (looking rather bored), it doesn’t seem to be too much to assume that hands-off operation is expected, if not outright required.

        • 0 avatar
          Corey Lewis

          How does tractor steering work then?

          • 0 avatar

            Smaller tractors less than 100HP usually have a mechanically linked steering box. Larger tractors and heavy equipment run a pure hydraulic system. Had A 1946 15k LB forklift with this style of fluid control steering system. So we are going back 70 years.

  • avatar

    This will just encourage more cell-phone use behind the wheel.
    It will also cull some of the more incompetent, along with plenty of innocent bystanders.
    In all seriousness, if you are too lazy to drive your car, how about you don’t, and let someone else do the driving? Are we so lazy that steering a car and paying attention to traffic is just too much work?

    • 0 avatar

      I think you are about to start a fight …

    • 0 avatar

      “City streets, intersections, and rural roads are a no-go at this time.”

      How many innocent bystanders are walking along interstates?

    • 0 avatar

      “In all seriousness, if you are too lazy to drive your car, how about you don’t, and let someone else do the driving?”

      Isn’t that what’s happening here, with the “somebody else” being the car itself? Why do you care if I’m being chauffeured by Jeeves or robo-Jeeves?

      “Are we so lazy that steering a car and paying attention to traffic is just too much work?”

      I’m sure the same thing has been said about every labor-saving innovation in history. The answer has always been “Yes”.

      It’s not so much that I’m “lazy” as that there is other stuff I’d rather do on a long drive than focus on maintaining position and tracking moving objects for 10 hours.

      I”m sure my great grandpa would be disgusted that I use a washing machine instead of a manual washboard, or maybe just a rock down at the creek. I don’t care.

      Piloting vehicles on the interstate is a dreadful use of human intellectual capacity, and the sooner we can stop doing it and switch to more entertaining/productive things the better.

      • 0 avatar
        Tele Vision

        ‘Piloting vehicles on the interstate is a dreadful use of human intellectual capacity, and the sooner we can stop doing it and switch to more entertaining/productive things the better.’

        That’s just what The Google wants you to do. Driving a car takes you away from consuming or generating content.

  • avatar


  • avatar

    When it trickles down to Chevrolet, can I buy a Cruze with Super Cruise?

  • avatar

    So douchebags everywhere want to know: does an iPad fit in front of a CT6’s gauge cluster?

  • avatar
    Car Ramrod

    Congratulations Cadillac, you’ve taken everything about long road trips while my wife is driving (mostly boredom with occasional moments of sheer terror) and brought them across the vehicle to the driver’s seat.

  • avatar

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

    Ummmmmmmm… Have the lawyers vetted that one? Even Tesla is saying “please keep your hands and feet at the ready.”

  • avatar

    Now that you do not have to concentrate on driving….. you can really hone in on the buzzy little 4cyl, loud, choppy and vibration enhanced unibody ride and the small greenhouse.

    Can’t wait ‘ till these are ghetto rides and the super cruise malfunctions and the car just stops because the hood rats don’t roll with no OnStar payment.

  • avatar

    The technology’s name Super Cruise is weird, as is that scanner embedded on the wheel. But if it works, hey who am I to bitch.

    • 0 avatar

      I mean, people are used to cruise control. It’s better than Cruise Control, it’s Super Cruise Control. Seems sensible enough.

      (Supercruise is also an aviation term for fighter jets that can fly at supersonic speeds without having to use afterburners. )

  • avatar

    Nice to see how heavily GM is investing in this technology. I don’t think the company gets the credit for the advancements they are making in technology. They should do a corporate PR / advertising campaign that paints them as a technology company and really make noise about advancements like this. JMO.

  • avatar

    “The GPS in the car is an advanced one, with a claim of four to eight times more precision than regular GPS.”

    Huh???!!! Even if their receiver is more accurate, GPS accuracy is limited by signal distortion and the constellation’s availability. Are they using WAAS (the ground-based Wide Area Augmentation System that corrects GPS inaccuracies so that precision approaches to airports can be performed by aircraft using only an IFR-approved GPS receiver)?

    • 0 avatar

      Its just a press release and marketing speak so I doubt you’ll find any level of detailed technical info from by GM. My guess is this “advanced” GPS just pulls data from more satellites to ensure it really, really knows exactly where you are. While the regular GPS uses the minimum number of birds that are just good enough to place a dot on the map. I know the GPS on my boat will change icons when enough satellites were locked onto. It still works with a lower number, but with less accuracy. My unit draws a circle over your position on the map indicating the cone of uncertainty, IE: you are somewhere inside this circle but the current stream of data isn’t good enough to pin point exactly where. Thus if the circle is wider then the channel you are attempting to navigate then you had better have some kind of visual aid to ensure your course is true.

    • 0 avatar

      WAAS isn’t everywhere, so that can’t be it. I’m guessing that it could be a much more detailed road database that augments the GPS signal. As with aviation charts (and electronic charts and approach plates), periodic updates are required. With cars, this would be a much bigger problem as the amount of data would be much bigger. Keeping my ForeFlight charts up to date requires about a gigabyte of updates every few weeks.

      I’m of the belief that self-driving cars really won’t really happen until we have a combination of real-time car-to-car communication (or ADSB-like data collection and redistribution) as well as continuous uploads of local road data as the car moves from location location.

  • avatar

    So the car will stop itself if the driver does not pay attention to the warnings? Lets imagine the average driver cruising along behind a CT-6 on I-90 in light traffic and clear conditions and all of sudden the Caddy stops for no reason – hope the following driver isn’t looking in the rear-view mirror a second too long, or changing the radio station, or texting, or applying makeup, etc. when that happens.

    • 0 avatar

      Let’s run through the warning steps;

      1) Light bar and indicator lights, right in the driver’s line of sight
      2) Vibrating seat and audible alerts
      – I pretty much guarantee this will be aggressive enough there’s no way you can ignore it
      3) Car is brought to a halt – I have to assume this is done in a controlled manner, while OnStar is on the line.

      Basically, if your car is stopped, and you’re not having a medical emergency, you’re so distracted you shouldn’t be driving anyhow.

  • avatar

    Will this work as well as the ignition switch in millions of GM vehicles?

  • avatar

    If it only works on interstates, I’d rather fly and rent.

    • 0 avatar

      This. More so every road-rotting, traffic-increasing year, this.

    • 0 avatar

      My old man would do exactly the opposite. He doesn’t mind driving long distances anywhere now that we’ve done single-day runs from Denver, if it means avoiding the “hassle” of an airport. But I’m pretty sure he has mild agoraphobia, and he also thinks he could run an airline better than the airlines.

      • 0 avatar

        I hate airports and airlines.

        I’d rather drive anywhere less than 18 hours away.

        I’m actually excited about this kind of tech because I look forward to being able to hit the road at 8 PM, and show up at 8 AM 12 hours away.

        It may even help traffic congestion by using the roads when no one else is- late at night.

        Seriously if I could drive from 8PM – 8AM and sleep on the way, life will be good. Right now we do those awake.

        I know thats not supercruise, but thats where we’re going right?

  • avatar
    V-Strom rider

    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.

    • 0 avatar

      LOL… yes.

      I have smartcruise and I love it. just yesterday I was in stop and go traffic crawling at about 4 MPH, and I was able to just engage it and play on my phone.

      I kind of view that as the positive, to stop paying attention doing mondane tasks.

      The problem is the “expect you to concentrate”. Its impossible.

      I was just about pro-death-penalty-for-people-who-text-and-drive. Then I got smart cruise and learned to trust it so much I don’t have any qualms about looking away or paying less attention, and I’ve really began to trust the tech. Thats also what means I’m going to die in a fiery crash in about 3 months, as that’s how it goes… thats kind of the problem. No one is going to be concentrating and paying attention. You can’t. Once you trust something, you give up responsibility to it. You know you shouldn’t, but you do.

      Think about the occasional time your alarm clock fails- your late and lost.

      We’ve done that at work. We create a semi-automated system where a person has to check and verify that there’s no errors. Every error seems to get missed, when the person caught all of the when it was full manual.

      Once again, I’ll tell you that ignoring the road with smart cruise is stupid. I would have told you it was stupid every day of my life… and I do it. I lolligag at whatever I’m driving by, look at the people next to me, and at very slow speeds, even check my phone. I have complete trust my car will stop if the car in front of me stops, and go when they go.

      Its STUPID. I know that. Why do I do it? I can’t help myself. I’ve driven 30k miles, which is probably 1000 hours or so, and every time its worked perfectly… so why wouldn’t it work perfectly for 10 seconds while I glance at something?? I mean odds are it will. 99.99% of the time it will work fine. The problem is the .01% chance I die in a fiery crash.

      I was a great driver. I’m not anymore. I regret buying such a high-tech car.

      I’m a firm believer of mid-level autonomy failing. It just goes against everything we do as humans.

      Side note, 2006 Vstrom 1000 here… and a stromtrooper… ;)

      • 0 avatar
        V-Strom rider

        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!

  • avatar

    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.

    • 0 avatar

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

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