Cadillac Tops Tesla in Consumer Reports' First Ranking of Automated Driving Systems
CR finds that these features make driving easier but introduce new safety risks
CR rated Supercruise better because:
In Consumer Reports’ first-ever ranking of partially automated driving systems, Cadillac’s Super Cruise (shown above) was top-rated because our testing shows it does the best job of balancing high-tech capabilities with ensuring that the car is operated safely and that the driver is paying attention.
CR experts stress that the systems are not intended to be self-driving features. However, in the right circumstances, such as on long highway drives or in stop-and-go traffic, they can help relieve driver fatigue and stress.
The risks come if automakers allow the systems to operate in situations where they can’t do so safely and if the systems make it easy for drivers to feel like they don’t need to pay attention.
In CR’s rankings, Tesla’s Autopilot came in second, followed by Nissan/Infiniti’s ProPilot Assist and then Volvo’s Pilot Assist system.
Autopilot scored highly for its capabilities and ease of use, while Nissan’s system was better at keeping drivers engaged. Volvo scored comparatively lower.
IEVS, reporting on the above article:
. . . In a comparison test of a number of systems by Consumer Reports, Cadillac’s Super Cruise actually came out on top. And this isn’t the first comparison of these two systems have reached that same conclusion. So, what is going on here? Let’s take a closer look.
In everyday usage, there’s no doubt that many would prefer Autopilot, especially if they are Tesla owners familiar with its proficiency at reading the roads and adjusting to traffic accordingly. And, despite it being referred to as a beta system and recommended for highway use only, it can be engaged anywhere*. Did we mention that the system is constantly being improved upon and given even more functionality over time?
Super Cruise, on the other hand, actually scores lower than Autopilot when it comes to basic functionality. It’s just not as capable and it’s also geo-fenced, meaning that it can only be used on certain highways*. When it first rolled out, the number of roads where it would even turn on as quite limited, but that’s has grown over time and it now functions on a wide swath of our highway system.
So how does the Cadillac system manage to beat out Tesla’s? It all comes down to safety and it seems here, Autopilot is a victim of its own success. Experts in the field contend that with increased confidence in a system, comes a greater liklihood a driver will be less attentive. Sure, the Tesla system does nag you visually and audibly if you stay hands-off for 20 seconds or so, but a car can cover a lot of ground in that time* and, perhaps, find itself in a situation where it needs the driver to intervene.
By contrast, the Super Cruise system employs a camera trained on the driver and monitors their eyes to see if they look away from the road. Close your eyes or turn your head for more than four seconds and the Caddy’s steering wheel lights up and it gives an audible warning. The seat may even vibrate. . . .
*The asterisked quotes are primarily why Joshua Brown died, because although A/P (and other systems using Mobileye's hard/software) had no capability to recognize crossing traffic as a real target and trigger AEB (a fact that only came out as a result of the investigation, and wasn't known to the public prior to that), Tesla just recommended
in the owner's manual that A/P only be used on limited-access highways (with no at-grade crossings), but didn't prohibit it being used anywhere else, as they could have and Cadillac does. Result, one dead Tesla owner. Even with currently shortened A/P hands-off warning times, an A/P Tesla could still collide with that crossing semi, because it was only in sight for a maximum of 11 seconds from Brown cresting the hill, so if the driver had been hands-on immediately prior to that and then took their eyes off the road, there'd still be no warning given before impact.
IDK if any improvements have been made in the TACC/AEB systems now such that a similar crossing target would be correctly recognized and AEB engaged to stop the vehicle, but to my knowledge no company has made such a claim yet, and I applaud Cadillac for prohibiting Supercruise use in that situation until it does. AFAIC, NHTSA should mandate such prohibitions on all these systems, until such time as each one demonstrates that it can routinely handle crossing traffic in the straight crossing path and left turn across path situations. There's no excuse for companies using customers as Beta test guinea pigs in cases where failure = severe injury/death.