Cadillac's Super Cruise will finally arrive with 2018 CT6

It feels like it's been years in the making, but that's because it has.

Cadillac

It feels like it's been about half a decade since GM announced its semiautonomous Super Cruise system. The wait is almost over, because it's arriving later this year.

Super Cruise will be an option for the 2018 Cadillac CT6 flagship luxury sedan, which is set to go on sale this fall in the US and Canada. Cadillac claims it's the "industry's first true hands-free driving technology for the highway."

Cadillac points to two specific parts of Super Cruise that help separate it from the rest -- a driver attention system and lidar map data.

If the driver stops paying attention, Super Cruise will start throwing up warnings on the steering wheel, through the seat's haptic feedback and in the gauge cluster.

Cadillac

The driver attention system relies on a single camera atop the steering column. In conjunction with infrared lights, this camera is capable of tracking a driver's head position, keeping Super Cruise engaged only as long as a driver is paying attention to the road.

If the system detects that a driver's attention has drifted, it will give a warning prompt. If the driver continues to ignore the warnings, an additional light bar in the steering wheel will light up. Ignoring further warnings, which may include seat vibrations and gauge-cluster warnings, will cause the car to come to a stop and, if needed, inform emergency services.

Super Cruise-equipped CT6s won't have a lidar emitter, but rather, its system will pull from a database of lidar-scanned maps, which it put together by mapping "every mile" of divided highway with proper on- and off-ramps.

While that does confer some real precision to the system, it has the downside of limiting Super Cruise's use to only this kind of road -- divided highways with defined on- and off-ramps.

It's a bit of a bummer that it's limited to such specific use, but Cadillac wants to make sure that it can be used in the safest manner possible. Removing potential variables from the equation can help with that, and by so closely monitoring a driver's attention, it should hopefully keep Super Cruise's name out of the evening news when it finally comes to market.

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