The Super Cruise Control promised for the Cadillac CT6 has been postponed until 2017. It may be due to regulatory approval. NHTSAas sent letter to GM’s Brian Latouf, Executive Director,Global Safety & Field Investigations, Regulations ad Certification. GM asked for permission to engage the hazard lights in the case that the driver is unable to take control of the vehicle after the vehicle is in self-driving autonomous mode. NHTSA sees no problem with engaging the hazard lights to warn other drivers. However, there is problem in GM’s plan. NHTSA notes that the the plan to stop the vehicle when there is no response from the driver on the the roadway may be risky and against current laws.
We recently heard from Cadillac spokesman when we queried him about Super Cruise in an email, for another project, “Super Cruise will come to Cadillac sometime in the calendar year 2017. The system will debut on the all-new Cadillac CT6 prestige sedan.”
Here are some details taken from the NHTSA letter:
GM is developing a new adaptive cruise control system with lane following (Super Cruise) that controls steering, braking, and acceleration in certain freeway environments. When Super Cruise is in use, the driver must always remain attentive to the road, supervise Super Cruises performance, and be ready to steer and brake at all times. In some situations, Super Cruise will alert the driver to resume steering for example, when the system detects a limit or fault. If the driver is unable or unwilling to take control of the wheel (if, for example, the driver is incapacitated or unresponsive), Super Cruise may determine that the safest thing to do is to bring the vehicle slowly to a stop in or near the roadway, and the vehicles brakes will hold the vehicle until overridden by the driver.
GM plans to develop Super Cruise so that, in this situation, once Super Cruise has brought the vehicle to a stop, the vehicle’s automated system will activate the vehicles hazard lights.
GM believes that this automatic activation of the hazard lights complies with the requirements of FMVSS No. 108 for several reasons.:
- Activation of the hazard lights in this situation alerts other drivers that the vehicle is stopped and ensures overall traffic safety.
- Several past agency interpretations found taht automatic activation of the hazard lights in the event of a crash.
- There is no ambiguity about the meaning of the hazard lights in this situation, and it would be the safe thing to do.
GM is asked NHTSA to confirm that activation of the hazard lights by the vehicle’s automated system in the unresponsive/incapacitated driver situation described above complies with FMVSS No. 108.
NHTSA in a letters explains that the organization interprets FMVSS No. 108 to allow the type of automatic hazard activation described in GM’s letter.
GM states that in the event that a human driver fails to respond to Super Cruise’s request that the human retake control of the vehicle, and Super Cruise consequently determines that the safest thing to do is to bring the vehicle slowly to a stop in or near the roadway. The agency states there would appear to be no ambiguity about the signal’s meaning in this situation, and they believe that it is unlikely that the use of the hazard lights would confuse other motorists.
NHTSA does note that GM indicates that when the driver is unable or unwilling to take control of the vehicle the system will bring the vehicle to a stop in or near the roadway. A vehicle system that stops a vehicle directly in a roadway might depending on the circumstances be considered to contain a safety-related defect., it may present an unreasonable risk of an accident occurring or of death and injury in an accident.Federal law requires the recall of a vehicle that contains a safety-related defect. They urged GM to fully consider the likely operation of the system it is contemplating and ensure that it will not present such a risk.
Some reporters suggest that the system has a camera on the driver monitoring the driver’s alertness which does not appear to be a problem, just the pulling over and stopping on the road side.