Autonomous driving has been the buzz word in the motoring industry for a few years now, and the general formula has largely remained the same – radars, sensors and cameras scan the road ahead to enable hands-free driving. However, this system is not as precise as it could be. In poor visibility conditions, or on roads where lane markings are not detectable, for instance, the system may falter. Now, Cadillac is revolutionizing autonomous driving with its Super Cruise™, which utilizes a different approach to driver assistance technologies.

In fact the Super Cruise™ is the industry’s first true hands-free driving technology for the highway. Unlike other driver assistance systems, it uses two advanced technology systems — a driver attention system and precision LiDAR map data — to ensure safe vehicle operation in all conditions. 

Super Cruise™ uses LiDAR map data, along with a set of cameras and radar sensors, which is a more data-rich approach, and this is what makes it unique in the industry and brings unprecedented safety and convenience to the user.

While data from on-board cameras, GPS and radar sensors is nothing new and is employed by most assisted driving systems, Super Cruise™ uses the real-time data provided by the cameras and sensors coupled with a LiDAR-scanned map database.This combination of real-time data and the precision maps allow its use only when appropriate road conditions are detected, thus improving vehicle control through curves.

Thanks to the advanced map data Super Cruise™ can be used on limited-access highways — highways with defined “on-” and “off-ramps”. This focuses Super Cruise™’s benefit on highway commutes, as well as on long-distance travels.

The precision LiDAR maps were developed specifically for Super Cruise™, and provides detailed information about the road ahead.  This pairs with improved accuracy GPS, which measures real-time location that is four to eight times more accurate than traditional GPS.

Long-distance travels and daily commutes are markedly more convenient and safer with Super Cruise™, thanks to the addition of another industry leading feature - the driver attention system.

With a camera located on the top of the steering column, Super Cruise™ uses infrared lights to track the position of the head of the driver, ensuring that they are not distracted when the system is in operation. The camera focuses exclusively on the driver to determine where they are looking whenever Super Cruise™ is activated.

This system is also unique in the industry as current driver assist technologies rely solely upon steering wheel input. In fact, Cadillac is the only car-maker to monitor driver attention to the road ahead when Super Cruise™ is engaged.

The system constantly scans the driver’s movement and if it detects inattentiveness it prompts them to look at the road ahead. In the event that the driver, despite system alerts, continues to be inattentive a steering wheel light bar guides them to look at the road or resume control of the vehicle.

However, unlike other similar systems, Cadillac Super Cruise™ goes one step further. If the driver fails to respond to alerts in the form of visual indicators, audible warnings and tactile alerts from Cadillac’s Safety Alert Seat, the system uses the full capability of onboard driver assistance technologies to bring the car to a safe stop and contact OnStar - General Motor’s pioneering in-vehicle safety and security system, to alert first responders.

In essence, Cadillac has taken a novel approach to driver assistance technologies with Super Cruise™ and is arguably the safest and most technologically advanced hands-free driving system of its kind in the industry today.