The future for General Motors includes hands-free driving everywhere, a top executive said in regards to company plans to expand the capabilities of its Super Cruise system. The hands-free driving feature currently works on pre-mapped highways.
Taking hands-free driving to the streets is the next logical evolution of the technology and GM has a big team working on it. The setup is referred to as Ultra Cruise, was formally announced by GM’s Doug Parks at the Citi 2020 Car of the Future Symposium.
“Ultra Cruise’s domain would essentially be all driving, all the time,” Parks said. “Ultra Cruise would be all [that] Super Cruise [offers], plus neighborhoods, cities, subdivisions.” Unfortunately, Parks was light on details, such as when Ultra Cruise will reach production vehicles, as well as which vehicles will receive the tech first.
Ultra Cruise Sets Its Sights on Tesla‘s Autopilot
The name Ultra Cruise is an internal moniker for now, but we think GM ought to make it the system’s official name. Unlike Tesla’s Autopilot, the name Ultra Cruise does not imply the system is capable of taking over driving duties entirely.
In fact, Parks was careful to point out Ultra Cruise is not a fully autonomous driving system and the driver must be ready to grab the wheel at times. “We’re not saying that Ultra Cruise will be fully autonomous 100 percent of the time, although that could be one of the endgames,” he said.
This pits Ultra Cruise against Tesla’s Full Self-Driving Capability package that adds a more advanced version of Autopilot capable of steering the car on highway on-ramps and off-ramps and park itself. The setup also includes a feature called Summon that allows the car to drive itself to a user’s location. Tesla claims the package will eventually gain features such as the ability to operate on city streets and respond to traffic signals.
Super Cruise Rollout
Super Cruise, which was first introduced on the 2018 Cadillac CT6 sedan, is being enhanced and rolled out across more vehicles in the Cadillac lineup later this year, starting with the 2021 CT4 and CT5 sedans, as well as the 2021 Escalade. The updated Chevrolet Bolt will be the first non-Cadillac to get the system that GM plans to offer on 22 of its vehicles by 2023.
The current Super Cruise system is geofenced, and it works on more than 200,000 miles of highway across North America, with GM continuing to expand the feature’s geofenced area. Unlike other automaker’s semi-autonomous driving systems, Super Cruise users do not need to have their hands on the wheel. That said, users’ eyes must remain directed straight ahead. A camera monitors those behind the wheel of a Super Cruise-equipped vehicle to ensure users are prepared to take back control of the car if necessary.
Enhancements for 2021 model-year Cadillacs equipped with Super Cruise include better steering and speed control, improved cameras that are less likely to be blinded by the sun, and the system’s newfound ability to navigate freeway interchanges. Super Cruise is also now able to change lanes and execute passes on clear roads when a user activates the car’s turn signal.