GM reveals Ultra Cruise ‘hands-free’ system that covers ‘95 percent’ of driving scenarios․

GM reveals Ultra Cruise ‘hands-free’ system that covers ‘95 percent’ of driving scenarios․
07 October, 2021

After years of teases, General Motors is finally pulling the curtain back on its next-generation “hands-free” driver-assist technology. Dubbed Ultra Cruise, the new system uses sensors like cameras, radars, and lidar to control a vehicle’s steering, acceleration, and braking. GM says the system can be used on 2 million miles of paved roads and in “95 percent” of driving scenarios. Though which vehicles will get Ultra Cruise is still a mystery; GM says it will be available in a handful of premium vehicles in 2023, though the automaker wouldn’t disclose specific models. The news was announced as part of GM’s two-day annual investor event, in which GM also revealed its plan to double revenues by 2030 as it seeks to become a software company in addition to making cars.

GM’s first-generation advanced driver-assist system (ADAS), Super Cruise, has been praised as a safer, more capable version of Tesla’s Autopilot, thanks to its camera-based driver monitoring system that ensures drivers keep their eyes on the road. GM says Super Cruise will “co-exist” with Ultra Cruise, with the former available in more “mainstream” vehicles, while the latter is reserved for GM’s luxury models. GM wouldn’t comment on the price customers will be expected to pay to add Ultra Cruise as an option on their vehicles.

Super Cruise, which debuted in 2017 in the Cadillac CT6 sedan, is capable of completely hands-free driving across more than 200,000 miles of divided highway across North America. It compares the vehicle’s position, taken from both GPS and onboard cameras, to its location in a lidar map collected by GM. Once the vehicle knows where it is and that it’s safe to activate, Super Cruise will take over both steering and acceleration.

Jason Ditman, chief engineer at GM, elaborated on Ultra Cruise’s capabilities. “Drivers will be able to travel hands-free across nearly every paved road, including city streets, subdivision streets, and rural paved roads,” Ditman said. Ditman described Ultra Cruise as a “route following feature” that maintains headways and follows the speed limit. Ultra Cruise will also support automatic and on-demand lane changes, left and right hand turns, avoid close objects, and enable parking in residential driveways.

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