Filed under: Technology, Cadillac, GM

Cadillac is trying to make a name for itself on the safety and technology front, recently introducing its new Safety Alert Seat and outfitting new models with a suite of safety equipment that arguably puts it among the leaders in the industry. We got a chance to sample some of this last month, but we were also allowed to "drive" a semi-autonomous SRX test mule equipped with what Cadillac is calling "Super Cruise."

Nominally an improvement on adaptive cruise control, Super Cruise is actually a more sophisticated system that uses a camera communicating with the car's GPS to "see" the road ahead. It goes one step further than currently available systems, however, automatically centering the vehicle in the lane using its electric power steering system. Unlike other active lane-departure systems that use a car's brakes to help prevent it from veering off the road, the system General Motors is developing allows for precisely setting the vehicle's position within the lane. The test mule we sampled had steering-wheel-mounted buttons that would allow you to "nudge" the car from side to side by a foot at a time without upsetting its course. Super Cruise also communicates with the vehicle's other active safety systems to help prevent and mitigate crashes.

Super Cruise is designed only for use on the highway, to "ease the driver's workload."
Super Cruise is designed only for use on the highway, to "ease the driver's workload," with drivers still required to steer in city traffic and for more complicated maneuvers like passing. GM officials acknowledged the difficulty in deploying a system like this, a technology that if used improperly may encourage inattentive driving. Supposedly the system will only be functional under the specific circumstances for which it is designed, much like today's in-car entertainment systems will not play video on the front screen unless a vehicle is in Park. Currently the system is somewhat limited by external factors, like weather and the need for distinct lane markings. If visibility is low or the road doesn't have at least one clear lane demarcation, Super Cruise won't function. However, GM says it will improve the vision abilities of the system as it readies the technology for the marketplace.

GM says that Super Cruise could be introduced into production vehicles in just a few years, "by mid-decade." While on the one hand, its ability to help improve the safety of our roads is laudable, we can't help but express our frustration at the march of technology headed inevitably towards removing the physical act of driving from the motoring equation.

Scroll down to watch some video of us aboard the Super Cruise-equipped test mule and read the full press release.Continue reading Watch Cadillac's new semi-autonomous Super Cruise in action
Watch Cadillac's new semi-autonomous Super Cruise in action originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 30 Apr 2012 19:01:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.
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