GM announces ‘Ultra Cruise’ to enable ‘true hands-free driving’, taking OTA update approach

GM announced today its new ‘Ultra Cruise’ feature, which they believe will enable “true hands-free driving” on “95% of driving scenarios” in the US and Canada.

Interestingly, GM is taking a Tesla-like approach of enabling this capability over time through over-the-air (OTA) software updates.

Ultra Cruise is not the successor of Super Cruise, but the next level reserved for “premium vehicles”.

GM wrote about the new product in a press release:

“Today, GM unveiled Ultra Cruise, an all-new, advanced driver assistance technology and significant next step in the company’s journey to enable its goal of zero crashes, zero emissions and zero congestion. Designed to ultimately enable hands-free driving in 95 percent of all driving scenarios, Ultra Cruise eventually can be used on every paved road in the U.S. and Canada.”

The system is going to work on “more than 2 million miles of roads at launch in the United States and Canada.”

The new suite of advanced driver-assist features is going to be powered with an updated suite of sensors:

“Ultra Cruise works through a combination of cameras, radars and LiDAR, developing accurate, 360- degree, three-dimensional statistical representations of the environment surrounding vehicles with redundancies in critical areas. Ultra Cruise also incorporates an integrated LiDAR behind the windshield.”

The automaker also confirmed that it has “a 5-nanometer, scalable compute architecture future-proofed through the Ultifi software platform and Vehicle Intelligence Platform” powering the ADAS suite.

Here GM lists some of the planned capabilities of the new Ultra Cruise:

  • Provide users with information based on their experience with the system through an all new dynamic display
  • React to permanent traffic control devices
  • Follow internal navigation routes
  • Maintain headway/follow speed limits
  • Support automatic and on-demand lane change
  • Support left and righthand turns
  • Support close object avoidance
  • Support parking in residential driveways

GM makes it clear that drivers are still going to be required to pay attention at all times and they are going to enforce that through their driver monitoring system.

The automaker says that Ultra Cruise will launch “on select models in 2023, with Cadillac being the first to introduce the technology.”

Electrek’s Take

It looks like a good product. To me, it sounds like Super Cruise, but for more than just highways. However, it is only launching on “select vehicles” in 2023.

By that time, I think a lot of companies are going to have interesting advanced driver-assist products and even maybe some self-driving options – But it’s hard to tell since the space is super convoluted.

You know it’s convoluted when companies have to specify “true hands-free driving” and “full self-driving”.

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