In-Car Tech

Cadillac to make America's only hands-free drive technology even smarter for 2021 model year

Super Cruise driver assistance technology is the only hands-free drive technology available in the U.S., despite claims from fans of other automakers.

Photo courtesy of Cadillac

Cadillac already offers the only hands-free driver assistance feature available on a vehicle in the U.S. For the 2021 model year, the company is enhancing Super Cruise adding, among other technology, automated lane change functionality. This new capability will allow users to achieve hands-free lane changes on compatible highways when they make a request and certain conditions are met.

The new technological enhancements are made possible by the new General Motors digital platform, which allows for more electrical bandwidth and data processing power.

2021 Cadillac Super Cruise The new technology will debut in the 2021 Cadillac CT4 and CT5, the company's new sedans.Photo courtesy of Cadillac

Here's how the lane change functionality works. According to Cadillac,

When Super Cruise is engaged, 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 in the indicated lane, while also taking time to let other cars know that a lane change is imminent. If the system determines that the indicated lane is open, the vehicle will merge into said lane. The driver attention system will continue to require the driver to focus on the surroundings during the lane change.

Upon initiation, the gauge cluster will display messages letting the driver know when the automated lane change has begun, or if lane change is unavailable and changing lanes must be manually completed by the driver. 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.

"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 Mario Maiorana, Super Cruise chief engineer. "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."

Cadillac has made other improvements to the system including richer map information to enable automated lane change and improved functionality through turns and highway interchanges, improved software for better steering and speed control, and easier and more intuitive Super Cruise functionality that allows drivers to more easily engage with the system.

Super Cruise launched in 2017 and currently is available for use on more than 200,000 miles of compatible highways in the U.S. and Canada.

Enhanced Super Cruise with automated lane change will be an option on the 2021 CT4 and CT5 sedans and the 2021 Escalade when those vehicles become available in the second half of 2020.

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Cadillac will be the first brand with Ultra Cruise

General Motors

Tesla has been in hot water for a while now for shenanigans pulled by owners abusing the automaker's advanced cruise control functions. While the company's Full Self Driving (FSD) tech isn't quite ready for primetime, other automakers are catching up – quickly. Today, General Motors announced Ultra Cruise, its advanced driver assistance tech that promises to allow hands-free driving in 95 percent of driving scenarios.

Ultra Cruise Ultra Cruise will build on Super Cruise functionality.General Motors

GM notes that its goal is to eventually roll the service out to all paved roads in the U.S. and Canada. When it launches, the service will work on over two million miles of roads, which could nearly double as the program expands.

Ultra Cruise will offer a host of automated driving features that build on Super Cruise:

  • Dynamic display system
  • Ability to react to permanent traffic control devices
  • Follow internal navigation routes
  • Maintain headway and follow speed limits
  • Support automatic, on-demand lane changes
  • Support left and right turns
  • Support close object avoidance
  • Support parking in residential driveways

The system uses LiDAR, radar, and cameras to build a 360-degree, three-dimensional picture of the world around it. An additional LiDAR unit is located behind the windshield. GM notes that a big part of the system is its Human Machine Interface (HMI), which communicates with the driver to alert them when they need to take control. Ultra Cruise-equipped vehicles will do this with a head-up display that helps drivers stay focused on the road, and will use the same driver monitoring cameras that are used in Super Cruise.

Ultra Cruise Ultra Cruise will enable hands-free driving in the majority of driving scenarios.General Motors

Ultra Cruise will first be available in Cadillac vehicles starting from 2023. There's no word on pricing or specific vehicle availability at this time.

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The entire VW lineup sees new features and tech.

Volkswagen

The 2022 Volkswagen lineup will be tech-forward and will have more standard features than before. That's the message the automaker sent with its most recent announcement, which gives us a solid look at the company's 2022 catalog and the standard features that will be distributed across it.

Most new VW models feature the brand's Digital Cockpit system, which is a digital gauge cluster that can display maps, audio and entertainment features, and more. The Atlas, Atlas Cross Sport, Golf GTI, and Golf R all come with the feature.


2022 Golf R VW's Digital Cockpit is not standard on several models.Volkswagen


VW's IQ.DRIVE system is also widely standard in the automaker's catalog. The technology includes a hands-on semi-automated driving function with lane centering and capacitive feedback on the steering wheel. Volkswagen says that in town, the system can help alert drivers to upcoming obstacles or to sudden changes in traffic activity ahead. IQ.DRIVE uses front and rear radar, a front camera, and several ultrasound sensors.

Several advanced driver assist features are also included in the IQ.DRIVE system. They include forward collision warnings, automatic emergency braking with pedestrian monitoring, active blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alerts, adaptive cruise control with stop and go, lane keep assist, and a semi-automated vehicle assistance system.


2022 Volkswagen Tiguan The Tiguan gets updated styling for the new model year.Volkswagen


Beyond tech updates for the new model year, Volkswagen has made changes to several other models' styling and powertrains. The Jetta, Jetta GLI, and Tiguan received fresh styling for the new model year, while the Arteon sedan now comes with a more powerful turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 300 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. It's paired with a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox.


2022 Volkswagen Taos The Taos is brand-new for 2022.Volkswagen


Finally, a new vehicle hits the VW lineup for 2022. The Taos is a compact SUV with styling similar to that of the Atlas SUV. It also gets the Digital Cockpit system as standard kit, as well as a turbocharged 1.5-liter engine and optional all-wheel drive. The Taos starts at around $23,000 before destination.

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