Cadillac and its Super Cruise semi-autonomous driving system beat out Tesla in a new ranking of partially automated driving systems tested by Consumer Reports, which published its results this week.
Consumer Reports compared Cadillac's Super Cruise and Tesla's Autopilot systems, along with others developed by Nissan and Volvo. In the final ranking, the former’s ProPilot Assist ended up in third spot, while Volvo's Pilot Assist ranked fourth.
Testing was carried out both on public roads and on a private circuit, and sought to determine how each system managed automatic steering, accelerating and braking in different situations. Also looked at was how the systems monitored drivers’ attention and if and when they directed drivers to take back full control of the vehicle.
As have many organizations and reports recently, Consumers Reports points out that excessive or improper use of the automated systems created new driving risks, even as they undeniably reduce risks arising from driver fatigue, stress and inattention.
“…the systems are not intended to be self-driving features.”
- Consumer Reports
None of the systems tested out by Consumer Reports works in all driving situations, it should be stressed. Tesla’s AutoPilot is actually operable on smaller winding roads that don’t necessarily have clear lane markings, but the testers found that it "operates erratically in those situations." For its part, Cadillac’s Super Cruise functions solely on divided highways that are already mapped in GM’s navigation system.
Vehicles used by Consumer Reports for the tests were the Cadillac CT6, Tesla’s Models 3, S and X, the Nissan LEAF electric car, the INFINITI QX50 and Volvo’s XC40 and XC60 SUVs.
The organization’s conclusion was that the Super Cruise system was best of the bunch at “balancing high-tech capabilities with ensuring the car is operated safely and the driver is paying attention." It also found it was clear to the driver when the system could be used.
Consumer Reports also noted the capabilities and user-friendliness of Tesla's Autopilot, and the Nissan's ProPilot Assist superior ability to keep drivers engaged in the driving process.
Volvo, meanwhile, might want to take a hard look at the current state of its system. Testers found that the company’s Pilot Assist system did too little to monitor the driver showing signs of unresponsiveness, was not particularly easy to use and didn’t make it clear to the driver when use was possible. In general, its capabilities and performance came up short when compared to the other three systems tested.