The J. Geils
Band is playing "Detroit Breakdown" on the Bose audio, but
itís all good. Iíve got Cadillacís Super Cruise
semi-autonomous driving system under the hood, and 1,100 miles of
highway ahead of me between the Gulf Coast and the Great Lakes.
This is my
second experience with the Super Cruise, but the earlier drive was
engineers and lawyers jump all over me: "Self-driving" is
a slight overstatement, but itís hard not to be excited by Super
Cruiseís performance and potential.
Cadillac CT6 doesnít quite drive itself, but it comes closer than
you might imagine, and I enjoyed the results more than I could have
expected. Over the course of 2,300 miles in a recent drive from
Detroit to New Orleans and back, Super Cruise showed that itís a
major step toward fully autonomous vehicles that require no human
intervention. Its radars, cameras and electronically controlled
brakes, acceleration and steering allowed the 2018 Cadillac CT6
luxury sedan to virtually drive itself for nearly 90 percent of the
This is not a
dream "someday, cars will drive themselves" feature. Super
Cruise is available now. Itís standard on the top of the line
$84,295 CT6 Platinum and a $5,000 option on the $65,295 CT6 Premium
Cadillac to add Super Cruise to other vehicles quickly, and GM to
roll the feature out across its three other brands.
works on restricted access highways in the U.S. and Canada.
Essentially, it steers the car from the time you leave the entrance
ramp until youíre ready to exit the highway.
accelerates and brakes to keep pace with other vehicles or hold any
speed you set up to 85 mph. The driver has to touch the steering
wheel briefly to change lanes, and take full control in some
construction zones and on surface roads with traffic, stop lights
and other things. A face-recognition system watches to makes sure
youíre not asleep, slumped over or completely ignoring the road.
effective driver alerts for Super Cruise. The flashing red light on
the steering wheel and vibrating driver seat got my attention
quickly whenever I looked away from the road too long.
I merged onto
Interstate 75 south of Detroit and set the cruising speed. A green
steering wheel appeared in the instrument panel and I engaged Super
Cruise. The car steered itself about 60 miles, until I reached
construction zones that did not match the systemís digital map of
ever suspected I-75 in Ohio is one big construction zone,
interrupted by the occasional rest area or Panera Bread, Super
Cruise wonít do anything to change your mind. The Buckeye stateís
perpetual construction was responsible for nearly half my total
miles without Super Cruise.
The system let
me drive farther without fatigue, increasing my distance covered and
my fuel economy. I enjoyed the music on my iPhone more, noticing
instruments and arrangements for the first time.
isnít perfect. Low-angle sunlight in the early morning and late
afternoon can blind its cameras, forcing the driver to take over.
The carís pedestrian detection also shut the cruise off and
triggered all the alerts several times when there was no one in
front of me.
The CT6 is the
most nearly autonomous car you can buy today, but it will have to
fight to keep that status. The technology is evolving fast. The next
edition of the Mercedes S-class sedan will add the ability to
autonomously change lanes to pass slower cars. Tesla promises fully
autonomous driving, but has missed several target dates.
difference between Super Cruise and Teslaís current autopilot
system are that Tesla drivers are supposed to have a hand on the
steering wheel at all times. I covered more than 100 miles without
touching the CT6ís wheel on several occasions. At other times, I
might only touch the wheel for a moment, when poor lane markings
confused Super Cruiseís electronic cameras or to navigate a
complex highway interchange.
I got used to
it fast, and Iíll miss Super Cruise on my next road trip.