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Auto review: Cadillac says hands-free driving with its Super Cruise system is 'like riding a monorail.' We try it

Charles Fleming, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Automotive News

Cadillac is in the middle of a massive marketing campaign to introduce its new Super Cruise. The semi-autonomous driving system, available only on the CT6 luxury sedan, is being billed as offering the "first true hands-free driving on the freeway."

The car company has sent CT6 sedans literally across the country, holding events in multiple U.S. cities, offering auto journalists short Super Cruise seminars followed by a turn behind the wheel.

The system is highly sophisticated. Using a combination of Lidar, high-resolution GPS and a Driver Attention System that monitors the driver, Super Cruise will allow the car -- on certain roads, under certain conditions -- to travel great distances without any steering wheel input by its operator.

The system is said by Cadillac press materials to offer "comfort and convenience," and to inspire "trust, confidence and peace of mind."

"This takes adaptive cruise control to the next level," Cadillac marketing chief Kurt Ghering told a small group of auto writers gathered near Los Angeles this month. "It's like riding a monorail."

Working in tandem with the CT6's adaptive cruise control system, the Lidar and GPS watch the road and anticipate turns, obstacles or other changes in the driving surface. Sensors posted on the steering wheel watch the driver to make sure his or her eyes are facing forward and trained on the road ahead.

 

The driver can turn away for extended periods -- up to four or five seconds, in most situations -- to adjust the radio, pull something from the back seat or rifle the glove compartment -- while the car maintains speed and direction.

If the driver should turn away for longer than that, nod off or fail to respond to certain warning signals, the Super Cruise system will take action.

First, if a driver's attention wanders from the road for too long, the system will produce a flashing light, audible chime or haptic sensation in the driver's seat.

Then, if the driver waits too long to acknowledge the warning signals, the system will relinquish control of the car and decline to redeploy for the duration of the drive -- exactly what happened to me the first time I drove a Tesla Model X equipped with Autopilot.

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