Speaking at a conference in California on Wednesday,Â Cadillac PresidentÂ Johan de Nysschen threw some gentle shade at his rivals by stating General Motors’ measured approach to hands-free driving was the secret to Super Cruise being a winner. For those of you that don’t know, Cadillac claimed it became the first automaker to accomplish a coast-to-coast drive using hands-free technology last fall.
While it’s debatable whether the Super Cruise equippedÂ CT6s making the journey actually achieved the feat without a driver ever having to touch the steering wheel, GM’s semi-autonomous system is among the best in the business right nowÂ â€” if not the best.
How did it manage the feat? For the most part, Cadillac built on the technology it already had to fine-tune adaptive cruise control to a point where the car could effectively steer itself on predictable highway jaunts. But de Nysschen says it mastered that in a closed environment, waiting until the system was completely ready. Meanwhile, other areas of General Motors have been devoted to total autonomy and perfecting theÂ Cruise Automation fleet’sÂ artificial intelligence systems.
“We believe that taking a measured approach is not only prudent and responsible but it can actually accelerate consumer acceptance,” de Nysschen explained, before mentioning “Tesla has been eager to flip the switch” on its Autopilot system and has placed much of the testing burden on its consumers.
“We believe that beta testing and validation belongs in a controlled environment supervised by expert engineers, and not in the hands of our customers.”
However, which strategy pays off in the long run is still unclear. The paralleled approach that saw GM engineers continuously improving Cadillac’s adaptive cruise control definitely helped create something special. But it’s not true autonomy, it’s just a better and more hands-off system than everything else that’s on the market. What Cadillac managed to do was carefully deliver the best product it could without rushing itself or over-promising.
Super Cruise was expected to debut on the CT6 flagship in 2016; instead, it was added to the sedan’s tech roster in late 2017.
Johan knows there is room for improvement, too. He said that, even thoughÂ Cadillac tested Super Cruise over years of development using both simulations and on-road testing (at its proving grounds), the system’s handling of inclement weather could be bolstered. Super Cruise also doesn’t use LIDAR or any vehicle-to-vehicle communications. But those details may be left for the engineers at Cruise Automation, which tests on public roadsÂ just like everyone else, while Cadillac rests on itsÂ laurels a while.
In the meantime, Tesla will continue its work on Enhanced Autopilot as some of its “more daring” customers find their own ill-advised workarounds for a truly hands-free experience. Elon Musk says the brand will finally be able to demo its own nationwide road trip sometime within the next six months.
[Source: Automotive News]Â [Image: General Motors]