Autos

GM upgrades Super Cruise driver-assist system to better match Tesla's Autopilot

Key Points
  • GM is updating its Super Cruise driver-assist system to feature lane-changing capabilities similar to Tesla's Autopilot.
  • The new capability will debut on the 2021 Cadillac CT5 and CT4 sedans later this year, followed by the next-generation Cadillac Escalade.
  • GM has been extremely conservative in its rollout of the technology, which debuted in 2017.
GM's Enhanced Super Cruise will include automated lane change, which will allow the hands-free system to change lanes on the highway when requested on demand.
GM

DETROIT — General Motors is updating its Super Cruise driver-assist highway system to feature lane-changing capabilities similar to Tesla's Autopilot.

The lane-changing function as well as other enhancements to Super Cruise will debut on the 2021 Cadillac CT5 and CT4 sedans later this year, followed by the next-generation Cadillac Escalade, the company announced on Tuesday.

GM launched Super Cruise in 2017, two years after Tesla debuted Autopilot. The Detroit automaker has been extremely conservative in its rollout of the technology, despite development of the system going back a decade or so.

Due to the slower launch cadence and additional safeguards, Super Cruise has not received as much attention or scrutiny as Autopilot. Tesla has faced questions about Autopilot's role in at least three fatal crashes and about allowing driver misuse.

Some experts consider Super Cruise to function better than Autopilot in its limited use cases, however Autopilot has offered greater capabilities, including the ability to change lanes since its launch in 2015.

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Unlike Autopilot, Super Cruise is limited to more than 200,000 miles of limited-access freeways in the U.S. and Canada that have been lidar-mapped to assist the on-board system of cameras, radars and sensors. It also uses facial recognition to identify whether the driver is paying attention so there's no need for drivers to touch the steering wheel while the system is operating.

Autopilot uses similar on-board cameras, radars and sensors to steer, accelerate and brake automatically within their lanes, and move into different lanes, but doesn't use lidar mapping. The system also can operate on some city streets and guide the vehicle to highway on- and off-ramps by working with the vehicle's GPS navigation system. However, drivers still need to check-in with the system by touching the steering wheel.

To use Super Cruise's lane-change feature, the driver can either tap or fully latch the turn signal to indicate that they would like to change lanes. This will prompt the system to look for an acceptable opening and then change lanes.

"We have made a number of improvements to make Super Cruise more intuitive, better performing and more accessible for our customers," Mario Maiorana, chief engineer of Super Cruise, said in a release.
"In addition to the automated lane change functionality, we've made improvements to the user interface and hands-free driving dynamics."