Tesla’s self-driving system, Autopilot, is known to be one of the best self-driving software’s currently present in vehicles. It can perform simple tasks such as self-parking to navigating itself along the highway with automatic speed control and lane changing. So far, it has come uncontested with no automaker around the world to be able to compete against its capabilities. With rising popularity for the Model 3 which will come integrated with a new version of Autopilot that has complete autonomous capabilities, manufacturers such as GM, Ford, and Daimler are trying to get into the game. And now GM has their version ready for the public.
Dubbed Super Cruise, this is going to be GM’s version of the Tesla Autopilot that is supposed to be taking it to the next level. Coming out later this year, it will be available with the Cadillac CT6 only to start with the software and hardware being integrated into the vehicles that will come after. General Motors claims that it’s system has achieved a level 3 autonomous driving which is more that what Tesla has at level 2. For some background, autonomous driving comes in levels 0-5 with 0 being a vehicle with no automated system to level 5 being that no human intervention is needed and the system makes all the decisions. Tesla’s level 2 system means that the driver can make interventions whenever required and that the system is not perfect and could fail. In GM’s case, level 3 shows that the system has been perfected enough that the driver can take all their attention off the vehicle but since it is not completely perfect, human intervention may still be required.
Super Cruise uses two advanced systems. The first is a driver attention system that with a small camera on the steering column uses infrared to track the driver’s head when using Super Cruise. If the driver starts to get extremely distracted, warnings would be thrown to keep the driver’s attention. Comparing to Autopilot, the same technology is at play with the system required the driver to stay focused by keeping their hands on the steering wheel. If not done, then the car alerts the driver by making sounds and flashes the Heads-Up Display prompting the driver to put his hands back on the wheel. The second is the LIDAR technology that uses lasers which map out the highway along with lane markings and obstacles to navigate the vehicle through traffic. Integrated into this a front facing camera and front facing radar. These are what will initially be used for most of the self-navigation as the data collected by the LIDAR is required to be mapped by a team of GM experts which comes as a disadvantage as the LIDAR is much more accurate and safer. On the other hand, Tesla’s software uses a front facing radar and has 7 cameras strategically placed around the vehicle to get full vision and safety. These cameras have been present in all vehicles manufactured after October 2016. By the time GM will unveil Super Cruise in its vehicles, Tesla is hoping that by then most of the cameras will be utilized in the self-driving process and reaching the same level or higher as General Motors.
General Motors is now one of the first companies to combat the Tesla Autopilot. More automakers are most likely going to follow in the next few months unveiling their own versions of the system with each of them claiming to be better than the other. The last question that remains is who will be on top on the end and will they remain to prevail.
Linked below is the demonstration released of Super Cruise.