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Cadillac Challenges Tesla's Autopilot

Published Monday, April 17, 2017. Category: Autos

Self-driving cars are all the rage nowadays. Pretty much every major auto manufacturer, as well as a lot of technology companies, are racing to automate vehicles. Several manufacturers have promised Level 4 automated cars (where the car almost completely drives itself) within the next 5 years.

Tesla has quite a head start with its Autopilot (which is considered a solid level 2), but lots of competitors are knocking on the door.

Cadillac just announced that the 2018 CT6 will incorporate Super Cruise, which is a very high level 2 autonomy. However, Cadillac will be forcing you to pay attention to the road (sorry, no movies or napping while commuting).

The steering column incorporates a camera that will watch the driver's head position and eyes. The system allows the driver to adjust the radio, take phone calls and other tasks, but if the driver takes attention off of the road for too long, the car will start issuing escalating warnings (light bar on steering wheel, audible alerts and tactile alerts in the seat). If the warnings are not heeded, the car will come to a stop and notify first responders (via OnStar) of a possible medical emergency.

Most autonomous cars use GPS, radar and cameras to keep the car safely on the road. To step things up, Cadillac incorporated the use of LiDAR map data with these sensors. A fleet of LiDAR equipped vehicles were used to map something like 160,000 miles of highway in the US and Canada. The resulting LiDAR map is uploaded to the car and, along with the super sensitive GPS, enables the CT6 to navigate highways in unprecedented accuracy. This allows the car to better navigate curves and predict needed engine and transmission adjustments.

Unfortunately, the CT6 will be geo-fenced to these highways and Super Cruise will not function in other locations such as city streets...for now. As road and street data is collected and refined, it's presumed that Cadillac will eventually allow Super Cruise to have more functionality outside the current geo-fenced areas.