Super Cruise isn’t some special week-long vacation to the Bahamas for folks who buy a new 2018 Cadillac CT6 this fall. It’s the automaker’s response to Tesla’s Autopilot, offering drivers a hands-free option for use on limited-access highways. Hands-free doesn’t mean attention-free, however, and to make sure drivers keep their eyes forward and open, Cadillac has all kinds of checks and balances which include stopping the car completely. More on that in a moment.
Cadillac touts its Super Cruise as the first “true” hands-free system for the highway. That’s a dubious statement considering there are videos all over the internet of Tesla’s Model S carrying on down the highway without human intervention. The difference here is a technical one – Tesla always told drivers to keep their hands on the wheel, then updated the system to require just that. Cadillac has no such requirement; instead the CT6 uses cameras to make sure drivers keep their eyes on the road where they belong.
“When we were developing Super Cruise we knew it was important to keep the driver engaged during operation. That’s why we’ve added a driver attention function, to insist on driver supervision,” said Barry Walkup, chief engineer of Cadillac Super Cruise, in a press release on the feature.
When Super Cruise is engaged, the system will prompt drivers to return focus to the road if attention is elsewhere for too long. If that doesn’t happen, a series of escalating alerts that include visual cues, audible demands and tactile warnings in the seat will tell the driver to pay attention. At no point will Super Cruise disengage – If the driver still doesn’t respond after the bevy of alerts, the car will bring itself “to a controlled stop” and alert OnStar “if necessary.”
Cadillac’s Super Cruise uses LiDAR technology along with on-board cameras, sensors, and GPS data to guide the car along. The system will only activate in areas deemed appropriate, which for now is restricted to limited-access highway use. The manufacturer says engineers mapped every mile of every highway in both the U.S. and Canada to provide an extremely detailed LiDAR map for the system.
“Super Cruise™ is a more technologically advanced hands-free driving solution, which in terms of capability, integration and validation is uniquely focused on customer convenience and safety,” said Johan de Nysschen, president of Cadillac.
Super Cruise will be an option exclusive to the 2018 Cadillac CT6, available this fall for U.S. and Canadian markets.
Gallery: 2018 Cadillac CT6 Super Cruise
Cadillac Super Cruise™ Sets the Standard for Hands-Free Highway Driving
- Provides comfort and convenience in long-distance travel and daily commutes
- Exclusive DRIVER attention SYSTEM supports SAFE OPERATION
- Precision lidar-based map data combines with real-time sensors and cameras to improve Vehicle control
NEW YORK — The 2018 Cadillac CT6 will feature Super Cruise™, the industry’s first true hands-free driving technology for the highway. Unlike other driver assistance systems, Super Cruise™ utilizes two advanced technology systems — a driver attention system and precision LiDAR map data — to ensure safe and confident vehicle operation.
These systems are added to the network of cameras and radar sensors in the CT6, providing a more data-rich approach to driver assistance that is unique in the industry.
Super Cruise™ delivers comfort and convenience for long-distance travels and daily commutes. In addition, its hands-free capability and driver attention system help the driver safely complete common tasks in the car, such as using the navigation system, adjusting the audio system or taking a phone call.
Super Cruise™ adds automatic lane-centering to CT6’s existing suite of driver assistance active safety technologies, enabling automatic control of speed and steering during highway driving. The system, which was designed to promote driver safety and convenience, will be available this fall.
“Super Cruise™ is a more technologically advanced hands-free driving solution, which in terms of capability, integration and validation is uniquely focused on customer convenience and safety,” said Johan de Nysschen, Cadillac president. “Cadillac’s philosophy is to elevate driving. Super Cruise™ enables safe, simple hands-free driving for the highway.”
Driver Attention System Enables Safe Operation
“When we were developing Super Cruise™ we knew it was important to keep the driver engaged during operation. That’s why we’ve added a driver attention function, to insist on driver supervision,” said Barry Walkup, chief engineer of Cadillac Super Cruise™.
The driver attention system uses a small camera located on the top of the steering column that focuses exclusively on the driver and works with infrared lights to track head position to determine where the driver is looking whenever Super Cruise™ is in operation.
Existing driver assist systems only rely upon steering wheel input and warning messages to request driver attention and control. Cadillac is the only manufacturer to monitor driver attention to the road ahead when Super Cruise™ is engaged.
If the system detects the driver has turned attention away from the road ahead for too long, it will prompt the driver to return their attention to the road ahead. If the driver does not immediately refocus on the road, Super Cruise™ will continue to safely steer until a further escalation of alerts prompts the driver to resume supervision.
If the system determines continued inattentiveness, a steering wheel light bar guides the driver to look at the road or take back control of the wheel. Additional alerts can include visual indicators in the instrument cluster, tactile alerts in Cadillac’s Safety Alert Seat and audible alerts, if necessary. In the limited event of an unresponsive driver, the Cadillac CT6 utilizes the full capability of onboard driver assistance technologies to bring the car to a controlled stop and contact OnStar to alert first responders, if necessary.
Precision LiDAR Map Data
Super Cruise™ is the first assisted driving technology that will use precision LiDAR map data in addition to real-time cameras, sensors and GPS.
Data from on-board cameras, GPS and radar sensors is a key component of most assisted driving systems. The car uses the real-time data provided by the cameras and sensors to govern steering, braking and acceleration. Super Cruise™ adds to this formula using advanced laser technology in development for future autonomous vehicles: a LiDAR-scanned map database.
Combined with the real-time data from cameras and GPS sensors, the precision map governs system use, enabling it in only the areas where appropriate road conditions are detected. The combination of real-time data with precision mapping also improves vehicle control through curves and hills.
This advanced map data restrains Super Cruise™ use to divided, limited-access highways — highways with defined “on-” and “off-ramps.” This approach focuses Super Cruise™’s benefit on highway commutes, a large part of many consumers’ daily driving routines, as well as long-distance travels. It eliminates variables such as intersections and other less predictable potential hazards that can be prevalent on rural roads or city streets.
“The development of Super Cruise reflects a responsible and safety-oriented approach to the rollout of this advanced technology,” de Nysschen said.
The precision LiDAR map was developed specifically for Super Cruise™. Engineers mapped every mile of limited-access highway in the U.S. and Canada, providing detailed information to the car about the road ahead. This pairs with improved accuracy GPS, measuring real-time location in a fashion four to eight times more precise than traditional GPS.
“American drivers travel twice as many miles on urban and suburban highways as they do on rural roads,” Walkup said. “Super Cruise™ allows hands-free driving and operates only within the environment where it has the most benefit. 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.”
Super Cruise™ will be offered as an option on the 2018 Cadillac CT6 prestige sedan, starting this fall in the U.S. and Canadian markets.