GM recently stated that it was temporarily abandoning its Super Cruise self-driving feature. Now, a matter of days later, it has released the official details for the improved next-generation version of the feature, dubbed Ultra Cruise.
The new system will use radar, camera, and LiDAR sensors to control acceleration, steering, and braking for GM vehicles. At launch, Ultra Cruise will be capable of offering hands-free driving on “more than” two million miles of paved roads—in “95 percent” of scenarios—across the United States and Canada.
For comparison, its predecessor, Super Cruise, covered a little over 200,000 miles of divided highway in North America. The first-gen advanced driver-assist system relied on a combination of onboard cameras and GPS to determine the vehicle’s exact location then compare it to a LiDAR map collected by the company.
GM still hasn’t released a statement regarding which of its upcoming vehicles will be eligible for the neat feature or how much it’ll cost as an add-on, only that it will be available in a select few premium models in 2023. It might even be available in GM’s new all-electric Chevy Silverado E. The company said both systems will “co-exist;” Super Cruise will be available in many of its standard vehicles, while Ultra Cruise will be limited to luxury models.
Jason Ditman, GM’s chief engineer, said of Ultra Cruise “Drivers will be able to travel hands-free across nearly every paved road, including city streets, subdivision streets, and rural paved roads. He characterized the system as a “route following feature” and noted that it’s capable of following speed limits, avoiding close objects, handling right- and left-hand turns, supporting on-demand and automated lane changes, and parking in driveways.
“The sensing architecture is all new. There are additional cameras and radars, and we are adding LiDAR to the vehicle,” said Ditman. So, any new vehicles featuring Ultra Cruise will also have LiDAR, which is something you rarely see in production vehicles due to its high costs.
While Ultra Cruise will be able to handle most scenarios, some still remain too tricky for the technology, like roundabouts. Whenever such a situation arises, a light bar located in the steering wheel and notification from a voice assistant will alert the driver that they need to take over; this process may also include haptic feedback and more intense lights to ensure the driver is aware of the situation. Since GM labels Ultra Cruise as a Level 2 partial driving automation, it’s not unexpected that there are still moments where a human driver needs to take over.
via The Verge