Does the CT6 Super Cruise really drive by itself?
The idea of a self-driving car has been a staple of sci-fi movies for decades, and advances in technology have made what seemed like an impossible dream into a reality. The CT6 is one of those that offers a semi-autonomous driving system called Super Cruise, but can you rely on this for autonomous driving in the real world?
What is Super Cruise?
It is an adaptive cruise control mechanism that automates brakes, acceleration and steer. This technology brings to mind the Nissan Pro Pilot Assist and the Autopilot from Tesla, but while there are similarities there are differences as well.
The Autopilot and Pro Pilot Assist rely on cameras which are oriented forwards to identify road markings. The Super Cruise on the other hand, relies on high definition maps to find the car’s position. Its precision level is good up to 4 inches and sees up to 1.5 miles of upcoming terrain.
With the GM OnStar system you’re assured the maps are updated on a regular basis. It is also possible to do more updates so you’ll be notified of changes like when construction takes place.
How it Works
The Autopilot and ProPilot Assist need your hands on the steering wheel to work. With the Super Cruise however you have to pay attention. By using a steering column IR camera, the car is able to keep track of your face and eye direction. Even if your hands are not on the steering wheel the Super Cruise will keep running.
If you’re not paying attention the steering wheel will flash a green light. Ignore that light and it will turn red and be accompanied by seat beeps and pulses. If that doesn’t get your attention you’ll hear voice prompts and it will stop the car. You can turn Super Cruise again but you’ll need to restart the engine.
Turning on Super Cruise
Now that you know how the Super Cruise works, how well does it perform? Pretty good actually. The first thing you have to do is turn a couple of steering wheel buttons on. Once you’ve turned adaptive cruise control on, the system will make sure the location has strong GPS signal and easy to see lane markings.
Once those conditions are met, the steering wheel symbol turns gray. Tap the Super Cruise button and the light and steering wheel symbol becomes green, indicating Super Cruise is in control.
Super Cruise is not fully automatic driving as you’ll still need to keep an eye on the road. You also have to lane change manually and keep an eye out in slow traffic. This is different from Autopilot which changes lanes automatically for you.
When you change lanes the Super Cruise steering wheel symbol becomes blue as it adjusts to the new lane. Once in the new lane the symbol turns green again to indicate Super Cruise is back on.
The Super Cruise feature runs smoothly and reliably for miles on end. It is most effective in straights, but it also handles bends and turns easily, with the steering wheel making smooth automatic adjustments.
Super Cruise can also determine the appropriate speed, and it does not suffer from the inconsistency that comes with other automated driving packages. The system can also detect if there is a car ahead and make the proper response. The response time here is a little slow but it is not a deal breaker.
The Super Cruise performs well enough and does pretty much what you’d expect. You don’t really need to do a lot as the system takes care of the driving, steering, acceleration and brakes. Of course you can always take control of the steering wheel anytime and that’s always good just in case something comes up.
One of the concerns here is safety, but the CT6 Super Cruise has done a good job making sure the system runs reliably. Another advantage is the face and eye tracker we mentioned earlier. By using this technology it forces the driver to still keep an eye on the road even when the car is on automatic.
Even if the car can keep going continuously, it is unlikely that you’ll be letting the Super Cruise do all the driving. In many instances you’ll just let it run automatically for sometime and then take over.
Having a fully automated driving machine is nice, but it can lull you into a false sense of safety. Requiring you to pay attention makes more sense.
Even without Super Cruise, the CT6 is an exceptional car, but this option takes it to the next level. If you have never driven a semi autonomous vehicle before it’s quite an experience. While we’ve still got some ways to go before cars are fully self automated driving machines, the CT6 is a step in the right direction.
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