Cadillac’s Super Cruise Finally Shows Up

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.