Cadillac has big plans for its hands-free Super Cruise system, the luxury brand set to expand to three more models, including the redesigned Escalade, while also adding new functions, such as the ability to change lanes automatically simply by tapping the turn signal.
Super Cruise is part of a growing wave of super-smart cruise control systems that allow motorists to operate hands-free, or with only a light hand on the wheel, in controlled situations. It has received kudos as one of the more advanced of these systems – which are seen as a forerunner of truly autonomous driving.
Super Cruise “is starting to roll out across the Cadillac portfolio,” said brand boss Steve Carlisle during a background briefing earlier this week. Originally offered on the flagship CT6 sedan, the technology is now on the smaller CT4 and CT5 sedans. It will debut on the next-generation 2021 Cadillac Escalade, as well.
It is only a matter of time before Super Cruise is available on all Cadillac products. The system requires a revised vehicle electrical architecture and that will go in place on other models as they receive mid-cycle or full changeovers.
Caddy is doing more than just expanding the availability of Super Cruise, however. It also is increasing its capabilities.
When first launched on the CT6, it was able to operate in hands-free mode on a relatively small range of roads – typically limited-access highways — for which Cadillac had hyper-accurate maps available. That meant pre-mapping roads around the country using a laser-based system called LIDAR, or Light Detection and Ranging. Far more accurate than the current, satellite GPS-based navigation systems used in cars today, it allows a vehicle with Super Cruise to know its location within inches, rather than feet, and compare what’s on the map with what its onboard camera and radar systems “see.”
Super Cruise-equipped vehicles also use a monitoring system to make sure a driver is paying attention to the road – even if their hands are off the wheel – so they can retake control quickly in an emergency.
Cadillac recently mapped another 70,000 miles of U.S. roads, meaning Super Cruise now can operate in hands-free mode on over 200,000 miles of highways.
And, for 2021, it will add the ability for a motorist to change lanes simply by tapping on the turn signal.
“This is our most extensive update we’ve made to Super Cruise since its debut,” said Mario Maiorana, Super Cruise chief engineer. “In addition to the automated lane change functionality, we’ve made improvements to the user interface and hands-free driving dynamics.”
Cadillac says around 30% of CT6 buyers have opted for Super Cruise, the automaker adding in a release that, “Customers are engaging the system around 50% of the time when available.”
What is now called Enhanced Super Cruise will be offered on the Cadillac ST4 and CT5 sedans – the big CT6 going out of production. It also will be added to the 2021 Escalade when the fifth-generation SUV launches later this year.
A number of competitors offer similar semi-autonomous lane-keeping technology. Only a small handful, including Tesla and Mercedes-Benz, have added lane-change capabilities.