General Motors, in the wake of Tesla overtaking their yearly sales for the first time, hit back as they revealed the new Cadillac CT6 that includes a “Super Cruise” feature, which is described by the company as
“the industry’s first true hands-free driving technology for the highway.”
The technology is akin to Tesla’s Autopilot feature which allows people to take their hands off the wheel and drive on the highway. GM announced that they would launch the Super Cruise with its automatic highway driving feature this fall, with the new Cadillac CT6 being the first commercial car after Tesla to introduce the feature.
Super Cruise’s features seem more or less a carbon copy of Tesla’s Autopilot, with the driver being able to take control of driving in highway settings, auto lane selection and speed adapting according to the traffic.
These features will be available on a trial basis, with driver only given access to
“divided, limited-access highways” with “defined ‘on’ and ‘off’ ramps”
according to The Verge. The system is also designed to track the driver’s head position via infrared cameras installed inside the steering wheel that will make sure that he/she is paying attention while the autopilot feature is engaged. In case they aren’t, a steering-wheel-mounted light notification system will go off along with audio alerts, forcing them to look back ahead on the road.
And just like Tesla, GM also has added a fail-safe measure that will stop the car in case the driver doesn’t respond to the alerts in time, which will be updated over-the-air, another similarity with Tesla.
But one unique feature in GM’s semi-autonomous highway driving features is the incorporation of LiDAR data for the Super Cruise. Although LiDAR sensor will not be installed on the car itself due to the cost of the components, GM has planned to deploy a fleet of LiDAR mapping cars that roam around the highways where Super Cruise are used and use their LiDARs to make the data available to the Super Cruise’s system over-the-air.
It’s still too early to predict whether Cadillac’s new Super Cruise will be able to match Tesla and even more interestingly face the same kind of legal issues and problems. But it is indeed an interesting addition to the ever increasing world of autonomous automobiles.