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Why Cadillac Super Cruise out-Autopilots Tesla’s autonomous tech
Super Cruise is the first such system to be LIDAR-based, but the cars themselves won’t have the laser ranging scanners. Instead, Cadillac has formed a joint venture with a mapping firm that sends LIDAR-topped survey trucks out to cover all of the major highways in North American. The result are high-resolution maps with resolution down to 5 cm (1.97 inches).
All the car needs is an upgraded GPS sensor, which can pinpoint the CT6’s location down with a two foot margin. That, Cadillac points out, is more than enough to figure out the highway lane the vehicle is in. It works in tandem with the existing radar and camera sensors already installed in the CT6 for its adaptive cruise control, lane-keep assistance, and other aids.
Cadillac can change the map piecemeal – just distributing the data on the sections that have actually changed – though is waiting to see whether that annual update schedule is practical. Most highway construction works, Walkup pointed out to me, take at least six months to complete. If an owner complains to their dealer that a section of road near them makes sense for Super Cruise but isn’t enabled, there’ll be the ability to go out and do spot-updates.
The system’s other distinguishing feature is Cadillac’s attention tracking. That uses an infrared camera mounted just above the steering column, with the driver’s face illuminated with IR LEDs built into the upper portion of the wheel. With that, Super Cruise can track how often you’re looking at the road ahead versus when you’re looking down at the infotainment touchscreen, your phone, or just watching the scenery go by.
The automaker’s goal is “supervised driving”: the car can handle the monotonous lengths of highway, but the person behind the wheel should still be keeping an eye on things. If they’re not paying attention, LEDs in the steering wheel can light up to remind them to glance ahead periodically. Exactly how often that’s required depends on the speed that the car is moving at: the faster you’re going, the shorter the period that you can be looking away.
Walkup says his team experimented with a number of different ways to prompt attention, from audible tones through icons in the driver’s instrumentation, and a head-up display. Testing suggested the light bar on the steering wheel was the most effective. You don’t need to grab the wheel when it flashes, or press a button to rest the system: just looking ahead is enough.
Super Cruise can be sneaky, too. It tracks movement and so can figure out if you’ve dozed off – or, indeed, printed out a photo of your face. Should you be suspiciously still, it will flash up a message on the center console display, designed to make you glance across automatically. If you don’t, it knows something is up and will escalate its warnings. Eventually, the system can actually bring the car to a full halt if the driver doesn’t retake control.
It’s a markedly different approach to that of existing semi-autonomous systems on the market today. All will pester drivers who keep their hands off the wheel at some point, but none actually monitor where the driver is looking: they merely track the tiny amounts of torque applied to the steering. Even Tesla’s much-vaunted Autosteer system, a part of its Autopilot suite, will periodically remind drivers to do so.
The other primary difference from a system like Autopilot is Cadillac’s approach mapping. Tesla’s cars contribute to a machine learning database over time, with each vehicle feeding back information about how it handled the road. That way, the automaker says, it can highlight times that off-the-shelf mapping doesn’t necessarily give a semi-autonomous vehicle all the information it needs.
In contrast, Cadillac opted to do the heavy-lifting on mapping first. Although none of the cars currently on the market with semi-autonomous or piloted driving features have super-accurate LIDAR scanners – they’re simply too expensive right now – Super Cruise nonetheless benefits from that accuracy thanks to its custom maps. The upshot is that all the learning is available from the outset, though it’s unclear when, exactly, Tesla’s crowdsourced approach might reach some sort of parity with Cadillac’s high-resolution mapping.
Having tried pretty much all of the driver-assistance systems of this type on the market right now, I’m more curious about Cadillac’s than most. One of the persistent issues all such technologies run into, I’ve found, is that you’re not entirely sure what the car is doing and when you might be required to take over. Combined with even the most expensive cars’ tendency to occasionally screw up in taking corners, or drift across lanes, and it’s often the case that I turn the systems off simply because it’s too stressful to second-guess them.
NOW READ: The tech inside Cadillac’s early bet on V2V
Super Cruise itself will be a $2,500 option for the Premium Luxury, and Platinum trims. [Update: Super Cruise is not standard on the CT6 Platinum.] The mapping changes will be covered under a ten year OnStar subscription that will come with Super Cruise. Beyond that, you’ll need to subscribe annually.
[Updated: An earlier version of this article omitted several paragraphs, which have now been restored. We apologize for the confusion!]
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2024 Cadillac Escalade First Drive Review – The Recipe for American Luxury
In the good old days – and by that I mean “before the arrival of the 2023 Escalade” – you bought Cadillac’s big, attention-seeking SUV mainly for the fact that it was, well, big and attention-seeking. Times change, though, and while the new Escalade is no smaller or more frugal (Surprise! It’s larger and thirstier!) it does finally bring more to the table than curb presence alone.
For the fifth generation, the Escalade puts its truck origins even further in the digital rearview mirror. More comfort, more attention to detail, and more gadgetry are combined with a cabin that has more usable space and is generally a far nicer place to find yourself, regardless of which row you’re in. That, at least, is the theory.
The last-generation Escalade was showing its age aesthetically, but it definitely had a brash, almost Art Deco extravagance to it. The 2023 update, meanwhile, is a more modern, dare I say restrained affair. It fits in better with Cadillac’s other SUVs like the XT6 and XT5, but I can’t help but miss some of the melodrama.
It’s still bigger, of course – 17 feet and 8 inches long, 6 feet and 9 inches wide, and 6 and a half feet high – with Cadillac stretching both length and height over the outgoing SUV. The grille is bigger and more shield-like, its dimensions only emphasized by the narrow, squinting headlamps either side. Two exaggerated J-shaped daytime running lights flow deep into the lower fascia.
There are hints of Cadillac’s well-received Escala concept, and I only wish that had continued around to the side. The Escalade’s crease-lines may be a little crisper, but it’s still a little too easy to see the family resemblance to the Chevrolet Tahoe with which it shares a platform. At least, once you get to the back, those iconic vertical light bars are still present and correct. There’s no mistaking what you’re following when you’re in the Caddy’s wake.
This is a big SUV. Like, really, really big. When it arrived, I thought “huh, they should really have put it on 21- or 22-inch wheels to fill those arches,” only to discover that these are the 22’s.
The slab-sided proportions mean you have a reasonable idea where the edges are, though visibility below the belt line is dire. I’m 5 foot 8, and the top of the grille reaches my chest. You could easily lose sight of a toddler altogether. Cadillac sensibly adds its 360-degree camera and parking sensors as standard, along with front pedestrian auto-braking and rear pedestrian alerts, but I definitely felt wary in parking lots and on suburban streets. You have to go swiping through the infotainment system to find the camera option, too: I’d really have preferred a shortcut button.
It’s not like the cabin is short of them. Cadillac has said a lot of the effort for this fifth-generation Escalade went into bringing its interior up to scratch, and you can tell. From the reassuring heft of the doors, to the high-quality leather, and of course that expansive dash-spanning display, it’s worlds apart from the old model.
By the time you reach the Sport Platinum of my test car, starting at $104,290 (plus destination), things are positively lavish. A tremendous 36-speaker AKG system; soft-close doors; rear seat entertainment with twin HDMI inputs; a head-up display; panoramic roof; rear camera mirror; ventilation and massage for the first row; adjustable ambient lighting; and extra leather wrapping for the trim along with a suede headliner. Throw in Night Vision, power retractable side steps, a cooler in the front center console, and the heavy-duty trailering package, and you’re looking at spending just shy of $110,000.
Some things, Cadillac gets really right. The first and second rows are positively plush, with big, comfortable seats and plenty of space. I wouldn’t be surprised if the third row was your third choice for a place to sit, but the longer wheelbase and suspension changes mean enough legroom for adults to avoid having their knees up by their ears this time. That’s a welcome improvement.
I like Cadillac’s willingness to experiment, too. This Whisper Beige interior combines soft semi-aniline leather with real metal and unique wood appliqués, broken up with bands of technical fabric that feel like linen rather than plastic. It’d be a devil to keep clean but it looks and feels great and, combined with the long glass roof and all that headroom, leaves the interior feeling incredibly spacious. You get 25.5 cu-ft of cargo space with the third row up, or almost 73 cu-ft with it down; drop the second row, and you’re looking at 120.9 cu-ft. The 2023 Escalade ESV will get even longer, its extended wheelbase upgrading the maximum cargo space to 142.8 cu-ft.
First thing you see inside is the vast display. Or, more accurately, three displays: the Escalade’s dashboard is topped by a trio of curved OLED panels that collectively measure 38-inches. The driver gets one for their instrumentation, plus a small touchscreen to the left that has the trip computer display and settings for the head-up display and gauge layout. A 16.9-inch panel handles infotainment and navigation duties.
Cadillac has sensibly kept physical controls for the core features, like a row of metal toggles for the HVAC, buttons for drive mode and – for those SUVs so equipped – 4×4 settings and air suspension height, and a navigation dial with shortcut buttons in the center console. Or, you can reach out and tap the big center display instead.
Headline feature is probably the augmented reality navigation, which comes standard on every 2023 Escalade trim. That beams a view of the road ahead to the driver’s display, and then overlays upcoming turns on top of that dynamically. It’s not the first such system we’ve seen but it works well, though I’d probably trade it for more capable voice control. Not only do you have to press a button to trigger Caddy’s assistant – unlike the wakeword offered in other luxury cars – it’s fairly restrained in its capabilities. You can control the music, navigation, and make calls, but you can’t change HVAC settings, open or close windows, or access the SUV’s other systems by voice.
It’s not the only trim oddity. There’s a useful audio system which surreptitiously boosts voices through the cabin so everyone can hear the conversation, but no in-car camera system for monitoring the back seats. Cadillac surrounds the new Escalade with cameras, but only activates them when you select reverse: other cars will show you what’s in the adjacent lane when you hit the indicator.
You can assume me similarly frustrated that, at launch, there’s no electric or hybrid Escalade either. Cadillac says it has an Ultium-based version of the SUV planned, but that all-electric model is still several years out.
What we get for now is a choice of two engines. Standard is a 6.2-liter V8, with 420 horsepower and 460 lb-ft of torque. A Duramax 3.0-liter Turbo Diesel – with 277 horsepower and 460 lb-ft of torque – is a no-cost option for those wanting a more frugal Escalade. Either way, you get a 10-speed automatic.
The V8 suits the Escalade’s temperament, as well it should considering it’s the only thing carried over from the outgoing SUV. Peak torque arrives at 4,600 rpm – the turbodiesel kicks that down to just 1,500 rpm, which should make it the tow-champion – though the sense is always one of steam engine-like momentum than sports car agility. The Escalade can go fast, sure, but while the beefy brakes feel up to the task, the kick you need to give them (and the resulting dive) to shed excessive pace dissuades any thoughts of road racing.
Better to cruise, then, and enjoy the uptick in ride comfort. All 2023 Escalade get a new independent rear suspension system for a boost in refinement, but the Platinum makes both Adaptive Air Ride suspension and Magnetic Ride Control standard.
Working in tandem, they grant the big SUV a little fluffy cloud of its own on which to float. Mediocre highway asphalt is smoothed away, the Escalade’s standard Tour mode a worthy nod to the truck’s long-distance cruising credentials. On even more unruly surfaces, though you’ll feel their impact, what’s most impressive is how difficult the Escalade is to unsettle. There’s no wallow or bobbing; deep ruts don’t leave the SUV bouncing like a settling ship.
For off-road purposes, the air suspension can lift the Cadillac higher still. It also automatically drops it down when you open the doors, to make clambering in and out a little more graceful.
Those grand cruises would be even easier with Cadillac’s Enhanced Super Cruise, available as an option on all but the base trim. The hands-free, attention-tracking highway assistance isn’t cheap – by the time you’ve added in the adaptive cruise, Performance Package, air suspension, MagneRide, and other options it demands, you’re looking at $8,850 on the Premium Luxury; it’s $2,500 on the well-spec’d Sport Platinum – but it’s undoubtedly the jewel in the automaker’s tech crown.
As before, Super Cruise can maintain your distance from the car in front, and keep your position in the center of the lane, using high-definition mapping for 200,000+ miles of divided highway in the US and Canada, all without requiring your hand on the wheel. What makes the head-tracking system “Enhanced” is that it can now automatically change lanes for you: tap the indicator, and the Escalade will look for a safe gap and then smoothly move over, without Super Cruise disengaging during the maneuver. My test car wasn’t fitted with they system – it’ll be available later on in production, Cadillac says – but I’ve been for a pre-production ride in it and come away impressed.
On the highway, the EPA says you could get 19 mpg in the all-wheel drive Escalade, compared to 14 mpg in the city and 16 mpg combined. The two-wheel drive version adds a point to each of those figures. My own mixed driving – with little thought given to economy – clocked up just over 14 mpg. Load up on passengers and cargo, hook up a trailer or horse box, and I’d be unsurprised to see single-digits.
Still, nobody ever picked an Escalade with fuel economy in mind. Cadillac’s luxury SUV was always the ostentatious choice, but this 2023 model feels like a lot more than just unrepentant American excess. The combination of silky-smooth dynamics and the huge uptick in cabin quality, fit, and finish make for an unexpectedly enjoyable ride, while – a few odd omissions aside – the tech shows Cadillac isn’t counting on nameplate and reputation alone to maintain the Escalade’s healthy sales.
That was a necessary wake-up, of course. We’re not short of big, luxurious three-row SUVs these days, and the German automakers are well in on the action. Cadillac’s premium pricing leaves the 2023 Escalade fighting in the midst of some very strong competition.
What stands out is how well it rises to that challenge, and when Super Cruise arrives the Escalade will have something its rivals just can’t match, at least for the moment. There’s been a frustrating sense in the past couple of years that Cadillac, for all it may have done well, hasn’t quite been able to find its identity in this new age of luxury. Turns out, it was working on the answer all along: now, it just needs to bring the new Escalade’s recipe to the rest of its range.
DH-10 at rest
Seen here is a DH-10 cruise missile being towed for arming a H-6 bomber. The DH-10’s flexibility, large payload and long range make it one of China’s most important strategic weapons.
DH-10 on Parade
At the 2009 National Day Parade (China’s 60th national anniversary), among the parade of lethal weaponry were sixteen DH-10 TEL vehicles (with 3 missiles each, that’s 48 missiles total). The 2nd Artillery Corps generally controls strategic systems like the DH-10 LACM, in addition to most ballistic missile types.
The DH-10 was first displayed in public during the 2009 National Day Parade, China is estimated to have at least several hundred DH-10 cruise missiles. The flexibility of the DH-10 is its greatest strength. The 1550 mile-ranged H-6K bomber can carry 7 KD-20s (the DH-10’s air launched variant), giving the PLAAF the ability to reach Pacific targets distant as Hawaii. The Type 052D guided missile destroyer and Type 093A nuclear attack submarines can carry DH-10s in their vertical launch systems; sea-launched DH-10s can cover over 90 percent of all global land mass. The next generation of this family will be the YJ-100, a proposed DH-10 anti-ship variant that will have an onboard radar and 800km range, potentially China’s answer to the U.S. Long Range Anti-ship Missile.
A H-6M bomber can carry two cruise missiles, giving China a strategic strike capability previously held only by the U.S. and Russia. The newer H-6K bomber can carry 7 missiles, and the planned H-X stealth bomber will likely be able to carry at least a dozen.
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Google Project Vault bakes super-security into microSD
How much trust can you squeeze into a microSD card? If you’re Google ATAP, the search giant’s outlandish research arm, it turns out the answer is “a huge amount.” Today at I/O the ATAP team revealed Project Vault, a full security computer packed into a microSD form-factor, and which if plugged into a phone, PC, or even an Internet-of-Things device could allow for entirely encrypted communications without the host device ever seeing what’s being discussed or worked on. Best of all, Google is releasing the whole thing as an open-source project.
“There’s an inherent tension between the desire to create capability and the ability to secure the very code that drives those capabilities,” Google ATAP lead Regina Dugan explained.
“My home has windows and doors, a porous boundary which is necessary for people and things to come and go. but those windows and doors make it harder for me to protect everything in the house. so I use a vault,” she said of the motivation behind Project Vault. “It can’t store all of the content of my house but it can store my most precious possessions.”
Project Vault the card does effectively the same thing. As well as an ARM processor there’s 4GB of isolated, sealed storage inside, together with NFC and an antenna which ATAP uses to identify the correct user is nearby.
Together, they can store files securely – Vault cleverly recreates the file structure a device would expect to find when it’s slotted in, only allowing access to specific data and marking all the other blocks as bad, which effectively makes it platform-agnostic – but also offer a suite of cryptographic services.
That includes hashing, signing, bulk and streaming encryption, and a hardware random number generator. ATAP has even found space for immutable logging, a gigabyte record of any attempts to access the card so that a hacking attempt could later be pinpointed.
The project is being led by someone with a notorious passion for privacy and security. Peiter “Mudge” Zatko is formerly of DARPA, just like Dugan herself, and joined ATAP in 2013. According to him, it’s about time that users had the same sort of security options that carriers and device manufacturers have made sure they engineer into the phones and other gadgets we carry.
“It turns out, you already have security elements in your phones and computers: SIM cards. They protect the things important to the carriers. Trusted Platform Modules. They’re the things that protect things important to the OEM and the content providers,” he pointed out. “Where’s the thing that protects the things that are important to you, that you have control over? So we made one.”
In Mudge’s demo, two smartphones running an instant messaging app were able to communicate via text message without the server in-between, or indeed the devices themselves, getting any inkling of what was being discussed. It needn’t be just text, though: in addition to encrypting any data stored on the card, Project Vault can secure streaming messaging, voice, and video communications, all in real-time.
It’ll be fully open-source, too, because ATAP is more than aware that it might struggle to gain the trust of the people who need to believe in Vault’s value.
“We’re doing this to be fully transparent because we want developers to be able to see how it works, understand it, and trust it,” Mudge explained.
Today, Google is deploying around 500 prototypes internally, as well as revealing the research hardware, dev-kit, and its accompanying software. It’s unclear when you might be able to buy a Project Vault card yourself, however.
“It shouldn’t matter how many doors or windows your house has,” Mudge concluded, “as long as it has a vault in it.”
MORE Project Vault
If the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were looking for heavyweight back-up while fighting their arch-nemesis Shredder, it would be hard to do better than a newly discovered species of ancient sea turtle. Leviathanochelys aenigmatica is the newest member of an extinct genus named Archelon, which boasts multiple kinds species of turtles that could grow to 15 feet long and weighed in about 7,000 pounds, more than a hippopotamus.
The new species, described in a paper published today in the journal Scientific Reports, swam the seas surrounding the present-day North American continent during the end of the Cretaceous period, about 145 million to 66 million years ago.
“The discovery of the new species itself was a surprise,” Albert G. Sellés, a co-author of the paper and postdoctoral researcher at Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona in Spain, tells PopSci. “We are used to finding dinosaur bones in northeastern Spain, and some of them are really big, but until now we have never found the fossil remains of a marine animal, and even less one of such colossal size.”
According to Sellés, a hiker found the bone fragments near the small village of Coll de Nargó in Catalonia in August 2024. The the remains were excavated between 2024 and 2023. The fossils include a fragmented but almost complete pelvis and parts of the upper shell called the carapace. The study authors date the specimens back to the Cretaceous period’s Campanian Age, roughly 83.6 million to 72.1 million years ago.
From the size of the pelvis, the team was able to estimate the turtle’s size: It was gigantic and aligns with other massive Archelons. “The size of Leviathanochelys aenigmatica is perhaps the most surprising characteristic. With up to 3.7 meters [about 12 feet] in total body length, it is within the top three largest marine turtles ever live on Earth,” Sellés says. The researchers are still working to determine what evolutionary processes could have made such a huge animal possible.
Previously, no known European marine turtle, extinct or living, had shells that measured 4.9 feet long.
Further study will be needed to learn more about what Leviathanochelys aenigmatica ate—and who ate it. But there may be one tiny clue to its predators. “It is still too early to say for sure, but it is likely that the turtle was preyed on by sharks,” said Sellés. “This conjecture is based on the fact that the shell presents some peculiar marks that could be from bites, and that a shark tooth was found near the skeleton.”
The paper says that this discovery shows that gigantism in marine turtles evolved independently in different groups in Europe and North America, where fossils of Ctenochelys acris and Peritresius ornatus and other ancient sea turtles have been found. It has been difficult for scientists to develop a consensus for the role these animals played in the evolutionary history of sea turtles, and this discovery will help fill in those gaps. Today’s largest sea turtles are the mighty leatherbacks (Dermochelys coriacea). The largest leatherbacks can grow up to 6 feet, half the size of Leviathanochelys aenigmatica, and can weigh up to 2,000 pounds.
“One of the most beautiful things about doing paleontology is that each new discovery represents a new challenge. And with each discovery, as if it were a giant puzzle, we rediscover the past history of our planet,” Sellés says.
Understand how Super Mario Odyssey differs from various classic Mario games. While classic Mario games are side-scrollers, Super Mario Odyssey allows you to move Mario in a full 3D world. This means that it controls much more like a traditionally third-person game (such as The Division or Crash Bandicoot) than a third-person side-scroller.
Left Stick — Move Mario while walking, running, or rotate in circles to prompt Mario’s “Spin” move.
Right Stick — Move the camera independently of Mario’s movement. You can also press this stick to activate first-person mode, though you can’t move while in first-person mode.
A or B — Press once to jump, or press and hold to jump higher. If you’re crouched, this button will cause you to backflip.
X or Y — Press once to throw Cappy, or hold to make Cappy stay after being thrown. Hold down to sprint when possible. Hold down near an object to hold the object, then release it to throw the object. Press once while crouched to roll.
L or R — Re-center the camera behind Mario.
ZL or ZR — Hold to crouch, or press once while on top of a pipe to drop into the warp pipe.
Plus — Pause the game and open the menu.
Minus — Open the map, or close the map if it’s already open.
D-Pad Down — Open the screenshot interface to take photos.
D-Pad Right — Scan amiibo if available.
Long Jump — Press ZL + B. Causes Mario to jump farther than usual while running.
Triple Jump — Press A or B three times at the height of each jump. Allows Mario to jump up to three times in succession.
Roll — Hold ZL to crouch, then press Y. Hold down Y to keep rolling. Useful for things like avoiding some traps.
Ground Pound — Press B, then press ZL. Causes Mario to slam into the ground.
Ground Pound Jump — Press B immediately after executing a Ground Pound. Causes Mario to jump higher than usual.
Dive — Press ZL + Y while in the middle of a fall. Causes Mario to dive rather than just landing on either water or underground.
Backflip — Hold ZL while pressing B. Mario will flip backward.
Quick Swim — When in water, press ZL, then press Y. This causes Mario to move forward.
Swim — When Mario’s underwater, press B or A to swim up.
Wall Jump — Press B while on a wall. Causes Mario to jump up and away from the wall at an angle.
Capture — Pressing Y to throw Cappy will result in him bringing back to you any capturable animal or opponent.
Cap Jump — Throw and hold Cappy by holding down Y, then walk forward and press B to jump onto (and off of) Cappy.
Homing Throw — Throw Cappy by pressing Y, and then shake the Switch repeatedly again and again. Cappy will automatically lock onto the closest item.
Insert the Super Mario Odyssey cartridge into your Switch. Once you’re ready to begin playing Super Mario Odyssey, begin by placing the game’s cartridge in the slot on the top of the Switch.
You can also select Resume to pick up where you left off if you have a saved game in progress.
Refrain from skipping any cutscenes. The intro cutscenes are important to understanding the story and the gameplay mechanics, so make sure you watch them all the way through.
Follow the initial tutorials. As with most games, Super Mario Odyssey has an introduction sequence that is meant to familiarize you with the controls and their basic applications. Once you’ve navigated through this section, you are free to begin playing Super Mario Odyssey in full 16 hour gameplay.
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