With Super Cruise already on the market and Ultra Cruise set to debut in 2023,
Cadillac offers car buyers their pick of advanced driver-assistive technology.
Automated self-driving cars are set to change our way of life, but how soon? Recently, GM’s Cadillac has made strides to keep pace with Tesla’s Autopilot technology, giving consumers the chance to get their hands on the assistive driving tech of the future.
Super Cruise and the upcoming Ultra Cruise can keep pace with traffic, hug curves, and even change lanes at the touch of a button.
Motortrend praised Cadillac for upholding its commitment to luxury driving, noting their Escalade “accelerated and braked smoothly and confidently, never slamming on the gas or the brakes.” Now, if only there was a way to automate the search for
For an overview of Super Cruise and Ultra Cruise, including their specifications, availability, and pricing, stick with
Jerry’s guide to self-driving Cadillacs.
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Does Cadillac have a self-driving car?
No, but they have semi-automated cars—Cadillac currently offers Super Cruise™, with Ultra Cruise™ set to debut in 2023. While GM’s proprietary technologies are quite impressive, they’re still Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS), which we’ll talk about later. For now, it’s best to think of them as advanced cruise controls.
In fact, you’ll have to activate Cadillac’s Adaptive Cruise Control before initiating Super Cruise. Once you do, the vehicle will check to see that the weather is fairly clear, the lane markings in the road are visible, and that you have GPS and cellphone reception.
What can Super Cruise do?
While active, Super Cruise can:
Drive in the center of the lane, even on curving roads
Keep your desired speed in traffic while maintaining a safe distance between other cars, even if they slow down
Perform Automatic Lane Changes or Lane Changes On Demand by tapping the turn signal stalk, if equipped with these upgrades
Tow trailers, campers, and more, if equipped with the Trailering upgrade
Super Cruise can drive only on compatible roads, i.e., those pre-mapped by LiDAR. The database stretches over 200,000 miles in the U.S. and Canada, most on freeways and highways. On any other road—and to merge with traffic, take highway exits, or make complete turns—you’ll have to take control yourself.
If Cadillac’s Driver Attention System (DAS) detects your eyes wandering or closing, the steering wheel will flash green, then red. Alarms will sound. If you remain unresponsive, the car will sound a verbal warning, gently come to a stop, and alert OnStar.
What will Ultra Cruise be able to do?
Ultra Cruise is set to improve on its predecessor by offering “door-to-door” automation that will keep drivers hands-free in 95% of traffic situations. Abandoning the need for pre-mapping, it’ll use a combination of cameras, radar, and LiDAR to read city streets, subdivisions, rural roads, and highways in real-time. With over-the-air updates and a flexible programming structure, Ultra Cruise is designed to evolve with further features, functions, and services as time goes on.
While active, Ultra Cruise will be able to:
Drive while remaining in the center of the lane
React to traffic-controlled intersections
Make left and right turns
Maintain 360-degree perception
Follow user-defined navigation routes
Complete Automatic Lane Changes and Lane Changes On Demand
Avoid objects in the road
Park the vehicle in residential driveways
Ultra Cruise aims to improve driver engagement with the Human Machine Interface (HMI), which develops the alerts and lights of the DAS into more of a conversation between car and driver. Note that you still must be ready to take control of the vehicle at any time.
Both Super Cruise and Ultra Cruise are offered on a subscription basis as part of Cadillac’s Connected Services. The plan includes access to OnStar® Advisors, who remain ready to provide roadside assistance and emergency support 24/7. All Super Cruise-equipped vehicles include three years of complimentary Connected Services, and it’s likely Ultra Cruise will do the same.
Ultimately, Super Cruise and Ultra Cruise will be offered side by side in order to provide consumers with their choice of advanced driving technology (and price point).
Key Takeaway Cadillac’s Super Cruise and Ultra Cruise systems can perform lane changes, adaptive cruise control, and smooth driving, but they still require driver attention to remain on the road.
How do self-driving cars work?
The term “self-driving” promises a simpler, safer, more efficient journey to some and a highly attentive, luxury driving experience to others—so what’s the real definition?
At its core, self-driving technology aims to monitor driving conditions, dynamically plan maneuvers, and execute actions without human input. That’s three actions—monitor, plan, and execute—plus one condition: nobody should be required to tell the car what to do. Using these criteria, the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) defined six levels of Autonomous Vehicles (AVS):
Level 0: No automation. The car cannot monitor, plan, or execute tasks and requires a human driver.
Level 1: Driver assistance. The car can execute a single task like steering, accelerating, or braking, but requires the driver to tell it what to do and when to do it.
Level 2: Partial automation. The car can execute two or more functions at once, but the driver must remain fully alert and ready to take control.
Level 3: Conditional automation. The car may handle monitoring, planning, and execution, but only under certain conditions and with human intervention.
Level 4: High automation. The car can handle monitoring, planning, and execution without human intervention, but only under certain conditions.
Level 5: Full automation. Under any and all conditions, the car can integrate monitoring, planning, and executing actions to drive itself without requiring human intervention.
Cadillac’s Super Cruise and Ultra Cruise are both Level 2 technologies. It’s crucial to understand their limitations because it’s easy to underestimate the capabilities of new technology, especially when they seem to handle so well. The reality is, they’re tools that make certain parts of driving easy, but it’s up to you to decide how and where to use them.
Level 5 self-driving cars remain years away from the market. And even when they do arrive, the
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) warns that fully autonomous vehicles might not be enough to prevent the majority of the crashes on roads and highways that we see today.
Which Cadillacs offer self-driving technology?
GM offers buyers two choices of ADAS, some of which are available today. Here’s a round-up of all the Cadillacs that are equipped with either Super Cruise or Ultra Cruise, with more details coming in 2023.
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