Cadillac previewed the next step in semi-autonomous technology at the New York Auto Show this week, improving its adaptive cruise control safety features.
The new Super Cruise system, which will be available in the Cadillac CT6 this fall, is able to alert the driver when they stop paying attention to the road and ensure that an accident similar to Tesla’s first autonomous fatality doesn’t happen in a Cadillac.
Instead of packing the steering wheel with sensors to recognize when the driver has let go, Cadillac has added head tracking sensors to make sure the driver pays attention.
The ‘Driver Attention System’ will alert the driver if they look away for too long, and the system has a series of alerts that escalate the longer attention is diverted. These alerts include voice, noise alerts and haptic chair rumbles.
Ignore me and I’ll shut down
If a driver ignores all alerts, the car will turn hazard lights on and shut down. It will also alert the emergency services. Unlike other cruise control systems, the driver needs to only look back at the road to turn off the alerts, they do not need to hold the wheel.
Another addition to Cadillac’s Super Cruise is a geo-locator that ensures cruise control only works on divided, limited-access highways. It comes after the first fatal accident involving a Tesla’s Model S owner that had AutoPilot active last year. The Model S did not recognize the white van that had pulled out of an intersection and the driver was not paying attention to the road.
General Motors is one of the few major automakers that are committed to semi-autonomous tech inside of cars. Ford, its main U.S. rival, has said it will skip Level 3 autonomy, which is considered a slightly more advanced form of cruise control, to push straight for Level 5, the highest level of autonomous driving.