Washington — At 60 miles per hour in the middle lane of busy Interstate 395 that connects the nation’s capital to its suburbs in northern Virginia, I took my hands off the steering wheel of a Cadillac CT6 equipped with General Motors’ new semi-autonomous Super Cruise system.
The system — which allows drivers to go hands-free once they are centered in highway lanes if their adaptive cruise control is turned on — took control from there.
It slowed the Cadillac when a car weaved in front of me, and braked when traffic slowed. When I looked off to one side, cameras monitoring my face caused red warning lights to flash and my seat to vibrate. Returning my gaze to the road ahead was enough to satisfy the system that I was ready to take over in an emergency.
Had I not paid attention, Super Cruise would have activated the car’s emergency flashers, slowed the CT6 to a stop and contacted GM’s OnStar communications system that there was a problem.
When it was time to switch lanes to exit the highway, a green light on top of the steering wheel turned red. The car allowed me to return to Super Cruise mode when I returned to a highway straightaway and centered it again in a lane. I was prompted to take control only when we approached a construction zone.
Drivers are alerted that Super Cruise is available for use when the car senses that it is centered in a lane on a “limited access” highway — the feature can’t be activated on two-lane highways or city streets. With the push of a button, Super Cruise takes over and the driver can go hands — and feet — free.
The Super Cruise system is standard on its high-end Platinum-edition 2018 CT6, which starts at about $85,300. It’s available as an upgrade on its Premium Luxury trims for an additional $5,000 on top of the $66,300 starting price.
A dozen Super Cruise-equipped CT6 sedans on Monday embarked on a cross-country drive to show off the new feature as the automaker begins delivering shipments to its dealerships. The cars will travel from New York to Los Angeles, crossing through 16 states and Washington, D.C., with stops in Cleveland, Chicago, Memphis, Dallas, Santa Fe and Phoenix.
Cadillac says the Super Cruise-equipped CT6’s are guided by lidar (light detection and ranging) mapping technology that is the product of over 130,000 miles of U.S. highway that were mapped out multiple times by its engineers. Lidar mapping works with in-car cameras, radar sensors and GPS to detect every curve and obstacle on the road ahead.
Drivers will be required to purchase an OnStar subscription after the initial three year trial ends to continue using system.