The latest carmaker to invest in autonomous driving technology is GM’s Cadillac. The 2018 Cadillac CT6 will feature Super Cruise, which Cadillac claims to be the industry’s first true hands-free driving technology for the highway.
The reason Cadillac says that is because, unlike other systems, you don’t have to touch the steering wheel every now and then in order to ensure that you are still awake and present in the moment. The Super Cruise utilizes two technology systems – a driver attention system and LiDAR map data.
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.
“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.
If the system detects that the driver has been distracted for too long, it will prompt the driver to pay attention to the road ahead. If the driver doesn’t 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 tries to get the driver’s attention to the road or take back control of the wheel. Additional alerts can include visual indicators in the instrument cluster, tactile alerts on the Seat and audible alerts, if necessary. If the driver is still unresponsive, the CT6 utilizes the onboard driver assistance technologies to bring the car to a controlled stop and contact OnStar to alert emergency services.
Real-time data provided by the on-board cameras, sensors and GPS add to the LiDAR-scanned map database, which is used to govern steering, braking and acceleration. The map governs the system’s use by enabling it in only the areas where appropriate road conditions are detected. This map data restrains Super Cruise use to divided, limited-access highways. Cadillac says that the combination of real-time data with precision mapping also improves vehicle control through curves and hills.
American drivers travel twice as many miles on urban and suburban highways as they do on rural roads. 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. – Walkup
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.