Cadillac is taking direct aim at Tesla by announcing that the 2018 CT6 sedan will be General Motors first vehicle to come equipped with the long-awaited Super Cruise, the semi-autonomous highway driving feature that GM has been working on for years. Cadillac calls Super Cruise the “industry’s first true hands-free driving technology,” which is a polite way for GM to say to Tesla founder Elon Musk: Come At Me.
Super Cruise bears similarities to Autopilot. As long as someone’s at the wheel, the feature can take control of driving on the highway, keep the vehicle within a lane, and change speed based on traffic. And the driver has to be at the wheel; the system’s designed to use facial recognition software that can determine whether a driver’s asleep or not paying full attention.
As Jalopnik reported last year, if the driver isn’t fully paying attention, Super Cruise is designed to activate alerts and, eventually, hazard lights, before bringing the vehicle to a controlled stop on the side of a road.
The biggest difference here? Cadillac says Super Cruise incorporates LiDAR mapping data, something Tesla has explicitly avoided. But the new CT6 won’t come with a rotating LiDAR atop the car; Cadillac has a fleet of LiDAR mapping cars that are gathering data that’s needed for the feature to work properly. According to the Verge:
That means Cadillac can control where drivers can and can’t use the hands-free function. Super Cruise will be restricted to only “divided, limited-access highways — highways with defined ‘on-’ and ‘off-ramps,’” the company says. In other words, drivers can only use the feature on road trips or highway commutes, not in cities or residential areas. Like Autopilot, Cadillac’s mapping data can be updated over the air.
Cadillac says Super Cruise will cost $2,500 as a standalone option; on luxury models, The Verge reports, an additional $3,100 is needed for the driver assist package.
GM’s embedded in the autonomous car race, between purchasing self-driving tech firm Cruise Automation last year for reportedly over $1 billion, and the automaker has been outfitting Chevy Bolts with autonomous gadgetry for testing purposes. Super Cruise won’t make the CT6 a fully automated car, but it’s another indicator of just how serious carmakers are about making the self-driving revolution happen.
And to GM’s benefit, at least it already has some great names for our future robot car overlords.