Cadillac used Lidar to create highway maps. (Cadillac)

Cadillac mapped 200,000 miles of highway for its semi-autonomous Super Cruise

Cadillac drivers will soon be able to keep their eyes on the road and their hands OFF the wheel more often.

The automaker has announced an upgrade to its Super Cruise semi-autonomous driving system, which allows for hands-free and foot-free driving in certain situations.


To make the system work, GM used Lidar to create precision 3D maps of major roadways in the U.S. and Canada and integrates the data with GPS, radars and cameras that are mounted on the car that allows it to maintain its speed in traffic and steer itself within a lane. It will even nudge over a little when it senses that it’s about to pass by a large vehicle.


When it launched in 2018, it functioned on 130,000 miles of limited-access highway, but the update will add 70,000 miles of divided roads that include intersections. Since the vehicle knows exactly where it is, it can prompt the driver to take over in advance of an upcoming obstacle or stretch of road it is incapable of navigating on its own.


While similar features offered by other automakers, like Tesla’s Autopilot, require you to occasionally touch the wheel to indicate that you are paying attention, Super Cruise uses a facial recognition system that can determine when you’re looking ahead, which allows Cadillac to explicitly advertise it as hands-free. According to Cadillac executive chief engineer Brandon Vivian, current owners have been using it 78 percent of the time they are on compatible highways.

So far only on the CT6 sedan, owners of 2018 and 2019 models will need to visit a dealer for a software update that will allow for the over-the-air map upgrades, while 2020 cars will already have this capability.

Super Cruise will spread across the lineup as new models are introduced, starting with the new CT5, and additional functionality is being developed. It is also expected to find its way into models from GM’s other brands in the coming years, enabled by a new Digital Vehicle Platform that’s being integrated into its upcoming cars and trucks.