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Sunlight may shut down Cadillac’s Super Cruise hands-free driving tech

The Cadillac Super Cruise hands-free driving system apparently shares one weakness with human drivers, and that is the possibility of being blinded by sunlight.

Consumer Reports compared Cadillac’s Super Cruise, Nissan/Infiniti’s ProPilot Assist, Tesla’s Autopilot, and Volvo’s Pilot Assist systems against each other in October. The Cadillac Super Cruise came out on top among the driver-assist systems, but that does not mean that it is perfect.

The Cadillac Super Cruise, which is capable of navigating most U.S. highways by itself, is plagued by the persistent problem of sunlight causing the system to suddenly disengage, according to Automotive News. It has been present since the technology was launched with the 2018 CT6 sedan, and General Motors has not yet found a solution to the problem.

The driver-assist system utilizes an infrared camera mounted on top of the steering wheel column. The camera is used to monitor the attentiveness of the driver, but it is prone to being blinded by sunlight due to its position.

“Just as the sun makes it hard for you to see what’s ahead of you, it does the same thing for a camera,” said Navigant Research analyst Sam Abuelsamid. “It is a challenge.”

The camera plays an important role in the Cadillac Super Cruise’s driver monitoring system, as it enables the technology to operate the vehicle with the driver’s hands off the steering wheel. Other driver-assist systems require drivers to regularly touch the steering wheel to fulfill the requirement of proving their attentiveness, in case they need to take over control of the vehicle.

Abuelsamid believes that to fix the problem, either the position of the camera will need to be changed, or some sort of filter or diffuser will need to be installed. In any case, the issue will not be addressed with a software update, as it is due to a flaw in the physical design of the system.

General Motors will need to determine their solution for the issue soon, as it has previously released plans to make Super Cruise available to all Cadillac models in 2020, and to all of the car manufacturer’s other brands down the road.

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