Cadillac is taking development work on what it calls its "Super Cruise" semi-automated driving system to the streets to get some real-world driving assessments.
Super Cruise is said to be capable of semi-automated driving including hands-off lane following, braking and speed control under certain driving conditions, although the driver’s attention is still required.
In this phase of development, engineers will drive Super Cruise vehicles in more and more challenging driving situations to test the system in a wide variety of environments to help refine it.
"Super Cruise is designed to give the driver the ability of hands-free driving when the system determines it is safe to do so," said John Capp, GM director of Global Active Safety Electronics and Innovation.
"Before we introduce this capability on a production vehicle we must put the system through rigorous testing and technology refinement," Capp explained.
"As we continually upgrade Super Cruise’s enabling technologies, it is important to expose the updated system to different environments," added Jeremy Salinger, R&D manager for Super Cruise.
"The best way to achieve reliable performance is to gather as much data as possible in the conditions our customers will experience," he said.
The system is designed to operate only on freeways, in bumper-to-bumper traffic and on long road trips.
Cadillac’s Super Cruise test vehicles use a fusion of radar, ultrasonic sensors, cameras and GPS map data, integrated into the vehicle for a near-production appearance.
Super Cruise’s development to date has included system testing on closed courses and in a driving simulator, as well as limited driving on real roads.
When General Motors finishes testing the system, it expects to have accumulated hundreds of thousands of kilometres of driving in various environments, such as day and night driving and a variety of weather and traffic conditions.
Even when Super Cruise becomes available on production vehicles, driver attention will still be required, the company cautions, because the system will have operational limitations based on external factors such as traffic, weather and visibility of lane markings.
When reliable data is not available, such as when there are no lane markings, the system will prompt the driver to resume steering.
Many of the building block technologies for Super Cruise are already available on 2013 Cadillac XTS and ATS models, as part of the available Driver Assist Package.
Super Cruise adds the integration of lane-centering technology that relies on forward-looking cameras to detect lane markings and other sensors to detect curves and other road characteristics.
It will use a series of alerts to communicate with the driver, based on human factors research conducted on test tracks and in GM R&D’s 360-degree motion-based driving simulator specifically designed to induce realistic driver behaviors.
Researchers used the simulator to measure driver eye glance behavior and control interactions in computer-generated automated driving situations.
"Drivers may be tempted to engage in secondary tasks during semi-automated driving, and we need to make sure we understand the changing conditions," said Daniel Glaser, GM Safety Center engineering specialist.
"In our simulator studies we are developing techniques to manage secondary task behavior to assist in our development of techniques for the road."
Cadillac projects that Super Cruise technology could go into production models by the end of this decade.