Cadillac Super Cruise Solves Key Issues Surrounding Partial Autonomy
Individuals who are looking forward to the Super Cruise driving platform can expect to fork out an additional $2,500 for the add-on. Like Google, the company has invested heavily into mapping out the entire US and Canada.
Tesla's success with Autopilot has raised the standard of autonomous driving and piqued the interest of tech-savvy consumers. So far, not a lot of automakers have been able to provide an answer to the level of seamlessness Autopilot achieves during operation on public roads.
The EV giant's closest rival in this niche is Cadillac. Earlier this year, General Motors (as the owner of Cadillac) unveiled and demonstrated the Super Cruise driverless platform for the Cadillac CT6. The new system allows drivers to navigate roadways with minimal handling of internal components, such as the steering wheel and pedals.
Although the driving platform only works on highways (for now), it will be introduced to the latest Cadillac CT6 models later this year. Individuals who are looking forward to this option can expect to fork out an additional $2,500 for the add-on.
Partial Autonomy Not an Issue
Perhaps one of the most intriguing aspect found in the Super Cruise platform is the way it handles giving back control to the driver. Using internal sensors focused on the movements of the driver, the car will flash lights and audio warnings, the moment it senses a decrease in focus. Looking away, at one's smartphone, side window or at the mirror, will trigger the notifications (Tesla, Mercedes-Benz and BMW do not use head tracking to monitor the status of the driver). If re-engagement is not acknowledged by the driver, the vehicle will automatically turn on its hazard lights and slow down, prompting an operator to check on the individual for safety.
"The system was designed to be hands-free, so there are mechanisms in place
to make you feel comfortable letting go of the wheel," explained Pam Fletcher,
Executive Chief Engineer of GM's Global Electric & Autonomous Vehicles.
It is unclear if the car will pull over to the shoulder or just slow down. Since it will only be available for highway driving, the latter maneuver could make the vehicle prone to accidents, as the presence of slow-moving cars will force fast-moving vehicles to break abruptly. The Super Cruise system does not execute lane changes autonomously, thus requiring the driver to stay alert at all times.
Extended Mapping Features
Cadillac's Super Cruise also has solutions for breaks or interruptions in data transmission. Like Google, the company has invested heavily into mapping out the entire US and Canada. This information will be used during critical stages of highway driving. For instance, if the car drives through a tunnel, it will be able to drive to the exit without reliance on GPS, which it probably won't have access to during the maneuver.
"This takes driving to a whole new level," said Robb Bolio, a lead engineer for autonomous vehicles at General Motors. "Super Cruise lets you do other things, like make phone calls, but it's not tedious or stressful. And on top of all that, it enhances your safety when you are driving."
Moreover, because the platform will only work on highways, the system will be able to prepare for the end of the session (usually marked by an exit or tollbooth) smoothly, pushing back control to the driver, as it approaches the city for manual driving.