The driver's view of a 2023 GMC Yukon Denali is shown using Super Cruise.

Safety First: How GMC’s Super Cruise Works

With the help of advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), driving is now easier and safer than ever. Sensors constantly monitor a vehicle’s surroundings to identify potential hazards and react accordingly. Although some refer to this tech as “self-driving,” it still requires humans in the driver’s seat for full participation. No automated system can replace human judgment–at least, not yet. However, driver assistance technology is still revolutionizing travel, making journeys more comfortable and safer. Advanced systems help drivers with tasks like lane departure detection and drowsiness monitoring to alert them of any potential errors or hazards on the road. Moreover, driver assistance can also encompass features such as route planning, obstacle recognition, and location finding, enabling easier navigation while giving drivers the peace of mind that safety comes first.

The race among car manufacturers to implement advanced driver assistance systems has produced many results, from simple implementation systems like anti-lock brakes to more complex and autonomous driverless car programs. However, the ADAS program that has received the most positive reviews, and the recipient of a recent Popular Science award, is GMC’s Super Cruise. Let’s look at how GMC’s Super Cruise ADAS works and successfully revolves around driver safety. After you learn more about Super Cruise, you may find yourself asking, “Where’s a GMC dealer near me?”

What Is Super Cruise?

GMC has revolutionized the driving experience with its Super Cruise system, placing it alongside pioneering advances such as backup cameras and automatic emergency braking. Super Cruise is a revolutionary driver assistance technology that provides drivers maximum convenience on compatible roads. This advanced system enables automated lane changes and offers hands-free operation when traveling. This cutting-edge technology is regarded as one of the recent most critical automotive breakthroughs.

Super Cruise has been available in select Cadillac models since 2017, and will be even more widely accessible soon. By the end of 2023, an impressive 22 vehicle types from GM are expected to offer this innovative hands-free feature, including the Hummer EV pickup, Yukon Denali and Denali Ultimate, Sierra Denali and Denali Ultimate, Chevrolet Tahoe, and Chevrolet Suburban (High Country and Premier trims only). Over the last few years, engineers have rolled out an improved version that allows easier utilization and enhanced features to make trips even more effortless.

A blue 2023 Sierra 1500 Denali equipped with Super Cruise from a GMC dealer near me is shown traveling down a highway.

How Does Super Cruise Work?

Super Cruise offers drivers a truly unique and innovative experience: the ability to cruise hands-free on highways as long as there’s an attentive driver in the vehicle. Benefiting from advanced Adaptive Cruise Control tech, it will automatically adjust acceleration and braking based on your speed preferences so that you can enjoy a safe ride with minimal effort. Here are the ways Super Cruise gives drivers a safer and less stressful trip.

Hands-Free Highway Driving

Super Cruise allows you to take your hands off the wheel and experience a new level of comfort as it automatically controls vehicle speed and steering. Geofencing restricts the system’s use exclusively to limited-access highways where 400,000 miles have been mapped in North America for your comfort and safety.

When Super Cruise encounters a slower vehicle, the system recognizes this and automatically shifts to take advantage of an open lane so you can stay at your set speed without hassle, then safely returns to the original lane when it’s clear. Super Cruise takes driver safety and awareness to the next level by automatically engaging the vehicle’s turn signals during lane changes, something that many human drivers neglect to do.

Super Cruise features an advanced lane change functionality, allowing the car to automatically move into another lane if it detects no other vehicles nearby. However, this feature is disabled while towing due to safety precautions. Additionally, this system offers the convenience of changing lanes with a simple tap. If you want to change lanes, flick the turn signal stalk and watch as your vehicle moves over, one lane at a time.

Vehicle Intelligence Platform

Super Cruise deploys a new Vehicle Intelligence Platform that drastically increases its performance. This upgrade provides more intelligent computers and sensor throughput, making driver assistance even more reliable. The system has also been upgraded with 360-degree radar arrays for environmental awareness. With this enhanced sight, it can actively detect surrounding traffic and react accordingly to prevent sudden lane changes in front of oncoming vehicles.

Driver-Attention Monitor

Advanced radar systems, sensors, and software have enabled engineers to improve the Super Cruise’s driver-attention monitor vastly. It now features superior sun-glare performance and the capability to track head pose and eye gaze for improved accuracy in determining attention levels. The system can even tell if a driver is focused through polarized sunglasses.

Unlike other ADAS systems, Super Cruise features an in-cabin camera that tracks the driver’s gaze, ensuring they remain alert while driving. The advanced system features an illuminated green steering wheel when the car safely handles highway roads within the preloaded map data. Should your attention stray while driving, an in-wheel light bar will flash brightly and vibrate the seat to draw your focus back onto the road. If this warning system fails to get the driver’s attention, Super Cruise may take more aggressive measures, including more flashes, seat-buzzes, warning sounds, relegation to manual operation, and, if necessary, deactivation of the system with OnStar alerted ready for assistance.

The driver's view of a 2023 GMC Sierra 1500 Denali is shown using Super Cruise.

When You Should Avoid Using Super Cruise

It can be easy to be lulled into a false sense of security when driving with Super Cruise. Although the system has its driver-attention monitor in effect, it’s still the driver’s responsibility to know where and when to use Super Cruise. As advanced as the system is, there are times when it shows its limitations, including:

Poor Weather Conditions

Several environmental elements, including icy roads and precipitation, can hinder Super Cruise’s impressive driving technology. Even glaring sunlight reduces its effectiveness, since it relies on accurate visual recognition of the road ahead. Heavy rain and fog are also examples of when drivers should drive their vehicle on their own, without the assistance of Super Cruise.

Construction Zones

Super Cruise is an advanced driver-assist system designed to help with on-road driving, but it’s not a crash avoidance measure. That means Super Cruise will not avoid construction zones, just as it will not steer or brake to avoid a collision. The same warning applies to making a turn, stopping at stop signs, and recognizing traffic lights. Thus, Super Cruise does not work on city streets or respond to oncoming or crossing traffic.

Highway or Freeway Exit Lanes

Super Cruise utilizes roads with limited access and designated on-and off-ramps to offer its users the best driving experience. However, it is not designed for use on highway or freeway exit lanes. Some ramps can present real driving hazards due to sharp curves, high banking, and steep gradients, which Super Cruise cannot handle.

The Future is Coming

Super Cruise is an innovative driver assistance technology that eliminates the hassles of a long drive. It uses a combination of advanced cameras, sensors, and GPS to detect turns on over 400,000 miles of compatible roads in both the U.S. and Canada, so you can engage in hands-free driving or trailering with ease and safety. However, Super Cruise is not an autonomous driving system. Drivers must pay attention to their surroundings, especially when approaching obstacles or locations where the system does not work.

In early 2024, GM plans to equip the Cadillac Celestiq with an updated version of their ADAS, called Ultra Cruise. GM states that this technology will create pathways for safe, hands-free driving across the US and Canada. Its vision of nearly universal road coverage means that drivers will experience this convenience on 95% of all roads, from cities to sub-divisions. Super Cruise and Ultra Cruise are revolutionizing the way people drive cars. Still, they are not self-driving systems, which means that to use these systems’ safety features to their full ability, drivers still need to pay attention to the road.