Tesla’s Autopilot function is popular, but deeply controversial. It’s been implicated in several accidents, not to mention viral videos, and while that might make any manufacturer shy away from such a feature, Cadillac has apparently decided it can top Tesla with a new, safer type of cruise control it calls “Super Cruise.”
To be fair, the system, announced today, and exclusive to the CT6 sedan for now, is pitched more as a solution to distracted driving than as a better cruise control system:
Super Cruise™ delivers comfort and convenience for long-distance travels and daily commutes. In addition, its hands-free capability and driver attention system help the driver safely complete common tasks in the car, such as using the navigation system, adjusting the audio system or taking a phone call.
Cadillac’s approach is novel both because it incorporates features that force the driver to look back at the road (to the point where if you refuse to look at the road, the car will pull over) and also because Cadillac is creating a precise map of roads using a light detection and ranging, or LIDAR, system that the car uses to navigate in addition to its onboard sensors. It’s also restricting use of Super Cruise to “divided, limited access highways” with clear on and off ramps; in other words, you can only use Super Cruise in the simplest environment for your car to drive itself through.
Still, that’s fairly impressive for driving car technology, and anything that reduces distracted driving is a win. Every day, distracted driving kills eight people in America, and “passive” safety systems can help reduce fatalities. Although we do hope Cadillac offers an option to have the car tell that guy on the phone going forty in the left lane to hang up and drive.