It has been five years since Cadillac announced it was working on a system it calls “Super Cruise” that would be capable of steering, braking, and lane-centering in highway driving without human intervention.
While at that time, the notion of a self-driving car still seemed like fodder for science fiction, it's now fait accompli, with Caddy announcing that its Super Cruise system will debut this fall in the North American versions of its flagship CT6 sedan.
Cadillac’s system affords hands free operation by essentially incorporating the CT6’s existing suite of driver assistance technology – including adaptive cruise control, blind spot and lane-monitoring systems – along with a self-steering function.
While engaged, Super Cruise will maintain a safe distance between the vehicle and traffic ahead at a speed selected by the driver, and will keep the car centered within lane markers.
For added safety, Super Cruise includes something Tesla's controversial Autopilot system lacks, namely a driver attention system that keeps an electric eye on a motorist’s head position via a steering wheel-mounted camera to ensure he or she is properly and prudently monitoring the road and is ready to re-take control of the vehicle if necessary.
Should the driver be caught, say, reading a book or is applying makeup while in Super Cruise mode, the system will give a series of audible, tactile, and visual warnings to advise him or her to refocus on the task at hand.
If after continued warnings the system determines the motorist is unresponsive, it will bring the vehicle to a controlled stop and, if needed, contact first responders via the car's OnStar telematics system.
Another key to the system is advanced LiDAR-scanned mapping of the entire U.S. and Canadian highway systems which, combined with real-time data from camera and GPS sensors is said to improve the CTS’ self-driving prowess by being able to anticipate and react to hills and curves encountered while en route.
For better or worse, however, the system is limited to use on “limited access highways,” which are defined as multi-lane roads having defined on- and off-ramps – Super Cruise simply won’t work over city streets or rural two-lane roads.
“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,” explains, the system’s chief engineer Barry Walkup.
No word yet on pricing or whether Super Cruise will be offered as a standalone option on the 2018 CT6, bundled with other features in one or more equipment packages, and/or offered standard on the top trim levels.