How I Survived Hands-Free Driving with Cadillac Super Cruise

by Lauren Crow on October 11, 2017 in Lifestyle, Travels,
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The technology in Super Cruise™ will absolutely astound you once you get behind the wheel. Cadillac has created a true hands-free driving technology that will be available in their 2018 CT6. Once you have had the experience of using this technology, you will not want to go back to your regular old car again.

A steering wheel light bar and cluster icons indicates the status of Super Cruise™ and will prompt the driver to return their attention to the road ahead if the system detects driver attention has turned away from the road too long. Super Cruise is asking for the driver to resume control of steering (flashing red light bar) in this image. Courtesy photo

You may be a little apprehensive at first (as I was), but after you settle in and get comfortable you can sit back and watch the technology do its job. With a driver in place, and on a limited-access freeway, the Super Cruise light will turn gray on your dashboard. Now you activate it and watch the car drive on its own. But don’t look away for too long! If your attention to the road starts to fade, after three to five seconds the light on the steer wheeling will begin to flash green to get your attention. If doesn’t draw you back in, then the light turns red, starts flashing and beeping and your seat starts vibrating. If you still don’t respond, the Super Cruise system slowly brings the car to a controlled stop, puts the flashers and calls OnStar. This feature is designed as a safety net to avoid dangerous situations arising from a driver dozing off, or one who is having medical problems. So, don’t start thinking that the car drives its self and you can drift off into a daydream. The car still needs your attention and at times will prompt you to take back control. It figures out whether or not you are paying attention with sensors and cameras which detect the position of your head and eyes. Sunglasses wearers don’t fret: you can still wear your shades; the cameras will adjust and just detect the position of your head.

The driver attention system uses a small camera located on the top of the steering column and works with infrared lights to determine where the driver is looking whenever Super Cruise™ is in operation. Courtesy photo

After I heard about how the car worked I was excited to get behind the wheel and try it for myself. Once on the highway, the car gave me the go ahead and I was able to turn on Super Cruise. At first, I was pretty nervous and didn’t feel comfortable taking my hands off the steering wheel. Once I got more comfortable, though, I sat back and watched the technology at work. The steering wheel moved slightly to the left or to the right to follow the curves in the road. You see, with the use of the LiDar Map Data the car knows where the curves are, where the center of the lane is, and whether or not you are in the center of the lane. With safety again in mind,  you cannot use Super Cruise until the car is in the middle of your lane.

I started getting extremely comfortable with the car driving itself. Then we hit an area that had a lot more activity on the road. I started to get a little nervous again and put my hands back on the steering wheel. Suddenly, the car in front of me started to rapidly slow down. The car I was in detected it and adjusted speed to match the car ahead. Once I saw this happen, I went back to feeling comfortable again and took my hands off the wheel. In similar fashion, once the car in front of us sped up, my car detected that and sped us up to match the flow of traffic. I did take a moment to look away just to see what would happen. Sure enough, the steering wheel started flashing with the green light. I wasn’t brave enough to look away long enough for it start blinking red, beeping and vibrating the seat, however. When we finally got to our exit the car prompted me to take control again and I did just that. By the time we got back to where I had to return the Super Cruise vehicle, I didn’t want to get back in my car and get on the freeway.

The Super Cruise technology is not only a hands-free driving system but it is also a safety system. Even though the car is driving itself, it is aware of where your focus is. The whole experience was awesome and I’ll get behind the wheel of a car with Super Cruise any chance I get.

Lauren Crow is a graduate of Millsaps College currently working on her Masters of Education in Reading and Writing at Southern Methodist University. She enjoys riding her bike, spending time with her friends and family, and traveling.