In 2017, General Motors launched Super Cruise – a semi-autonomous feature for the Cadillac CT6. In 2019, the driver assistance feature expanded to include over 200,000 total miles of compatible highways in the U.S. and Canada. Now, the system is getting another series of enhancements that includes automated lane change functionality, which allows the vehicle to change lanes when requested by the driver.
Before we get into the details, we should note that, in order for the lane-changing feature to work, it must meet certain conditions. Moreover, it currently works only compatible highways. The enhancements will be introduced starting on the 2021 Cadillac CT5, 2021 Cadillac CT4 and the upcoming, all-new 2021 Cadillac Escalade.
According to GM Super Cruise chief engineer, Mario Maiorana, this update to the hands-free driving system is the most extensive one yet.
“We have made a number of improvements to make Super Cruise more intuitive, better performing and more accessible for our customers. In addition to the automated lane change functionality, we’ve made improvements to the user interface and hands-free driving dynamics,” said Maiorana.
It’s also worth noting that these Super Cruise enhancements were made possible by General Motors’ all-new digital vehicle platform, which provides more electrical bandwidth and data processing power.
Automated Lane Changing
Here’s how to use automated lane changing: with Super Cruise engaged, the driver can either tap or fully latch the turn signal lever to indicate the desire to change lanes. Doing so prompts the system to look for an acceptable opening in the indicated lane, while also signaling to other cars that a lane change is imminent. If the system determines that the indicated lane is open, the vehicle will merge into the indicated lane.
GM says that the driver attention system will continue to require the driver to focus on the surroundings during the lane change, meaning that this is by no means a fully-autonomous system.
How It Works
The car communicates with the driver in various ways about the automated lane change. Upon initiating the turn signal, the gauge cluster will display messages letting the driver know when the automated lane change has begun. The system will display messages, such as “looking for an opening” or “changing lanes” to keep the driver informed on the status of the lane change. Alternatively, the system can also tell the driver that a lane change is unavailable, and that changing lanes must be manually completed by the driver.
“In order to add automated lane change and provide our customers with the same level of confidence that they currently have in Super Cruise, we made improvements to both our software and hardware,” said Maiorana. “This included improving rear-facing sensors and advanced software algorithms so that the system can confidently track vehicles approaching from the rear. As a result of these improvements, we are able to ensure that Super Cruise will hold in its current lane and only change when a sufficient gap exists.”
GM Super Cruise uses advanced technologies, including precision LiDAR map data and real time GPS, to help to provide a detailed understanding of the surrounding road and also to determine allowable automated lane change maneuvers. The system works via an array of camera and radar sensors that continuously scan around the vehicle to determine if an acceptable opening exists, allowing the vehicle to complete the lane change. GM says that the combination of these technologies and Super Cruise’s driver attention system ensures a confident execution of the automated lane change.
Other Super Cruise Improvements
In addition to the aforementioned automated lane change feature, the GM Super Cruise system also includes updates that are meant to improve performance and ease-of-use.
For instance, richer map information enables automated lane change and improved functionality through turns and highway interchanges, while improved software is used for better steering and speed control.
Finally, The General also made enhancements to make it easier and more intuitive for drivers to engage the system.
Enhanced Super Cruise with automated lane change will be optional on the 2021 Cadillac CT4 and CT5 Sedans as well as the 2021 Escalade. Those models should become available in the second half of 2020.
Ironically, the Cadillac CT6 will not live on long enough to see the improvement of the feature that it championed three years ago.