By on March 1, 2018

super cruise label

Speaking at a conference in California on Wednesday, Cadillac President Johan de Nysschen threw some gentle shade at his rivals by stating General Motors’ measured approach to hands-free driving was the secret to Super Cruise being a winner. For those of you that don’t know, Cadillac claimed it became the first automaker to accomplish a coast-to-coast drive using hands-free technology last fall.

While it’s debatable whether the Super Cruise equipped CT6s making the journey actually achieved the feat without a driver ever having to touch the steering wheel, GM’s semi-autonomous system is among the best in the business right now — if not the best.

How did it manage the feat? For the most part, Cadillac built on the technology it already had to fine-tune adaptive cruise control to a point where the car could effectively steer itself on predictable highway jaunts. But de Nysschen says it mastered that in a closed environment, waiting until the system was completely ready. Meanwhile, other areas of General Motors have been devoted to total autonomy and perfecting the Cruise Automation fleet’s artificial intelligence systems.

“We believe that taking a measured approach is not only prudent and responsible but it can actually accelerate consumer acceptance,” de Nysschen explained, before mentioning “Tesla has been eager to flip the switch” on its Autopilot system and has placed much of the testing burden on its consumers.

“We believe that beta testing and validation belongs in a controlled environment supervised by expert engineers, and not in the hands of our customers.”

However, which strategy pays off in the long run is still unclear. The paralleled approach that saw GM engineers continuously improving Cadillac’s adaptive cruise control definitely helped create something special. But it’s not true autonomy, it’s just a better and more hands-off system than everything else that’s on the market. What Cadillac managed to do was carefully deliver the best product it could without rushing itself or over-promising.

Super Cruise was expected to debut on the CT6 flagship in 2016; instead, it was added to the sedan’s tech roster in late 2017.

Johan knows there is room for improvement, too. He said that, even though Cadillac tested Super Cruise over years of development using both simulations and on-road testing (at its proving grounds), the system’s handling of inclement weather could be bolstered. Super Cruise also doesn’t use LIDAR or any vehicle-to-vehicle communications. But those details may be left for the engineers at Cruise Automation, which tests on public roads just like everyone else, while Cadillac rests on its laurels a while.

In the meantime, Tesla will continue its work on Enhanced Autopilot as some of its “more daring” customers find their own ill-advised workarounds for a truly hands-free experience. Elon Musk says the brand will finally be able to demo its own nationwide road trip sometime within the next six months.

[Source: Automotive News] [Image: General Motors]

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11 Comments on “Cadillac President Attributes ‘Measured Approach’ to Super Cruise Success, Gently Slams Tesla...”

  • avatar

    ‘‘Next six months” is Muskspeak for “three years”.

  • avatar
    Middle-Aged Miata Man

    I’m sure the 14 customers driving Super Cruise-equipped CT6s appreciate all the effort…

    Seriously, I want to like Cadillac. Even more than that, I want Cadillac to actually build world-beating vehicles; yet, the first thing I noticed in that pic is how the upper edge of the D-pillar window garnish doesn’t line up against the chrome trim atop the rear door window.

    Even Kia does details like this better.

  • avatar

    In a sea of bad news, point to the only bright spot and politely slam a [sort of] market leader. C-suite 101.

    How’s those dealer sales comin’ Johann?

  • avatar

    “Cadillac President Attributes ‘Measured Approach’ to Super Cruise Success”

    No, they attributed the success to the measured approach. Or, they credited the measured approach with the success.

    Sorry, it was bugging me…

    • 0 avatar

      Thank you, YellowDuck. I suppose we get the copy editing that we pay for; it’s one of the disappointing aspects of 21st-century life.

      Re: the fit & finish discussion above, I’m with Bunkie. I don’t think you can make a judgment from that photo. Also, that’s a C-pillar, not a D-pillar (see I’m not saying you can discern that it’s good, either.

      I think there’s a large amount of confirmation bias when reviewing fit and finish. In the ’70s and ’80s, you could sit in a cabin and, even with emblems absent and no knowledge of the corporate parts bin, easily know whether you were in an American, Japanese, or German car. And yes, American cars were a poor third in terms of fit & finish at that time.*

      Now? The gap (pun intended) has really narrowed. Fit & finish seems to be good to great across the industry, and I think differences in quality may be more model-specific and price-specific than company- or nation-of-origin-specific. I think Detroit gets dinged a lot for past sins.

      – – –
      *My grandmother’s ’78 Caprice Classic was a terrific car for its era and price point – absolutely great in terms of comfort, reliability, and durability. She had literally zero problems in 10+ years of ownership apart from a single power window switch mounted about 5 or 10 degrees off level. As great a car as it was for her, I can’t imagine a ’78 German or Japanese car with that issue from the factory.

      • 0 avatar
        Middle-Aged Miata Man

        Well, derp. I’ll give you that I confused the C and D pillar, but might I suggest a bit of confirmation bias on the parts of you and bunkie in asserting one can’t tell the trim is misaligned from that photo. It’s pretty obvious, guys.

        On the subject of confirmation bias, most reviews make note of sloppy fit and finish in recent Cadillacs.

        • 0 avatar

          Respectfully, it’s NOT obvious. It’s possible you’re viewing this on a much better screen than I am. What I’m seeing is a muddle of shadows and reflections. As I said above, “I’m not saying you can discern that it’s good, either.”

  • avatar

    I wonder how many gravel roads the test cars took on their trip.
    And how would they do on a gravel road next to a precipitous drop-off on a foggy day, during a dusty windstorm or while it’s snowing?

    I’m just waiting for the day when some practical joker repaints the lane lines on a small section of freeway to make all the artificial-intelligence cars take an exit or drive into a field (or worse).

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