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Cadillac CT6 Adds Tech for Hands-Free Highway Driving

April 10, 2017

<p><em>Photo of Cadillac Super Cruise at work courtesy of Cadillac.</em></p>

VIDEO: Cadillac Super Cruise Technology

The 2018-model year Cadillac CT6 will feature Super Cruise — new advanced driver assistance technology that lets motorists take their hands off the steering wheel during highway travel without risking the sudden loss of control, according to Cadillac.

Super Cruise’s hands-free capability and driver attention system will help drivers safely complete common tasks in the car, such as using the navigation system, adjusting the audio system or taking a phone call, the automaker explained in a released statement.

Super Cruise uses two advanced technology systems — a driver attention system and precision LiDAR map data. The systems work together with the network of cameras and radar sensors in the CT6. Super Cruise adds automatic lane-centering to CT6’s suite of active safety technologies, enabling automatic control of speed and steering during highway driving.

The system, designed to promote driver safety and convenience, will be available this fall. (To view a video demonstration, click on the photo or link below the headline.)

“When we were developing Super Cruise we knew it was important to keep the driver engaged during operation,” said Barry Walkup, chief engineer of Cadillac Super Cruise.  “That’s why we’ve added a driver attention function, to insist on driver supervision.”

The driver attention system, which uses a small camera located on top of the steering column, focuses solely 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. If the system detects the driver has turned attention away from the road ahead for too long, Super Cruise will prompt the driver to return focus to the road ahead. If the driver does not 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 guides the driver to look at the road or take back control of the wheel. Additional alerts can include visual indicators in the instrument cluster, tactile alerts in Cadillac’s Safety Alert Seat and audible alerts, if necessary.

In the rare instance of an unresponsive driver, the Cadillac CT6 uses the full capability of onboard driver assistance technologies to bring the car to a controlled stop and contacts OnStar to alert first responders, if necessary.

The Cadillac CT6 uses the real-time data provided by the cameras and sensors to govern steering, braking and acceleration. Super Cruise adds to this formula using advanced laser technology in development for future autonomous vehicles: a LiDAR-scanned map database.

Combined with the real-time data from cameras and GPS sensors, the precision map governs system use and enables it in only the areas where appropriate road conditions are detected. The combination of real-time data with precision mapping also improves vehicle control through curves and hills, according to Cadillac.

This advanced map data restrains Super Cruise use to divided, limited-access highways — highways with defined on-ramps and off-ramps. This approach focuses Super Cruise’s benefit on highway travel. It eliminates variables such as intersections and other less predictable potential hazards that can be prevalent on rural roads or city streets.

“The development of Super Cruise reflects a responsible and safety-oriented approach to the rollout of this advanced technology,” said Johan de Nysschen, Cadillac president.

The precision LiDAR map was developed specifically for Super Cruise. Engineers mapped every mile of limited-access highway in the U.S. and Canada, providing detailed information to the car about the road ahead. This pairs with more accurate GPS, measuring real-time location in a fashion four to eight times more precise than traditional GPS.

“American drivers travel twice as many miles on urban and suburban highways as they do on rural roads,” Walkup said. “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.” 

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.

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