Cadillac Takes on Tesla Autopilot With Super Cruise Self-Drive
CARS.COM — Cadillac is taking direct aim at Tesla's Autopilot, along with other autonomous drive systems, courtesy of the American luxury brand's Super Cruise self-driving system. Available in the fall as a $2,500 stand-alone option, Super Cruise will initially only be available on the 2018 CT6 sedan.
What makes Super Cruise unique in the growing market for autonomous drive systems is that the car doesn't just monitor and scan the road ahead, it keeps a careful eye on the driver, too. As part of Super Cruise, Cadillac's driver attention system includes a small camera mounted on the steering column to monitor the positon of the driver's head and face.
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Using infrared imaging, the system detects if a driver is paying attention to the road or looking away for too long. In the latter scenario, Super Cruise begins a series of warnings, including audible alerts, visible displays on the dashboard and vibrations delivered from Cadillac's Safety Alert Seat.
If the driver continues to ignore this cascading series of warnings, Super Cruise begins to slow the car and bring it to a safe stop. At that point, the Cadillac's OnStar system can summon an ambulance, if one is required.
Like other self-drive units, including Tesla's Autopilot system, Super Cruise relies on highly detailed mapping data combined with cameras and a sensor array to deliver real-time driving information. When engaged, all steering and speed inputs, along with lane self-centering, are controlled entirely by the car.
In the case of Super Cruise, however, the advanced mapping data also limits when and where a driver can use the autonomous drive function. According to Cadillac, a team of engineers used precise laser scanners to map "every mile of limited-access highway in the U.S. and Canada." This mapping data can then be used to determine if Super Cruise is engaged in the correct environment.
Those "limited-access" roads translate to clearly divided highways, and only those with dedicated on- and off-ramps. Barry Walkup, chief engineer of Cadillac Super Cruise, said in a statement that "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."
This move also alleviates the need (and concern) that a Cadillac fitted with Super Cruise must handle every single driving scenario, including inclement weather and highly unpredictable city drives. "Cadillac's philosophy is to elevate driving," said Cadillac President Johan de Nysschen in a statement. "Super Cruise enables safe, simple hands-free driving for the highway."