Cadillac is joining the growing list of brands offering self-driving technologies. Today the company officially announced its long-rumored Super Cruise system, which enables hands-free driving for drivers of the 2018 CT6 sedan.
Cadillac says Super Cruise is different from existing driver assistance systems because of two primary reasons: its driver attention system and use of LiDAR mapping data. Those two elements, combined with existing radar and camera systems onboard most Cadillac models, will make Super Cruise more accurate than other systems, the brand says.
A core element of Super Cruise is its ability to detect the driver’s attention. Cadillac has mounted a camera on the steering column that has the sole purpose of watching the driver to see where their attention lies. This is key because Cadillac is saying Super Cruise enables hands-free driving, so tracking eye-movement becomes the only accurate method to determining if the driver is still paying attention to the road.
Most driver assistance systems on the market today do not actively track the driver’s attention. Instead, they rely on steering wheel sensors and timed warning messages to keep the driver paying attention to the road.
When enabled, Super Cruise can essentially take-over highway driving. Through the use of cameras, radar, LiDAR and advanced GPS, the CT6 will basically drive itself on highway conditions. Specifically the system will keep the car centered in the lane, control the speed and steering during highway driving.
While automated systems are hardly new to the industry, Cadillac’s use of LiDAR mapping is amongst the industry’s first. LiDAR uses laser light to map the terrain ahead and measure distances to everything it touches. This, combined with real-time data from the cameras and radar, creates a more accurate picture for the car to operate from.
Cadillac says its engineers mapped every limited-access highway in the U.S. and Canada with LiDAR, creating a huge database for Super Cruise to tap and merge with real-time information from the car to allow it to self-drive. Cadillac will provide future updates to the LiDAR backed database via over-the-air updates.
Despite the alleged accuracy of the system, Cadillac’s driver attention system will ultimately bring the vehicle to a controlled stop if it feels the driver is not attentive to the road. This shut down will only happen after multiple warnings and alerts suggesting the driver pay more attention, though.
Super Cruise will launch this fall on the 2018 CT6 sedan.