General Motors is taking “Hands-Free” driving to a new level. The auto giant is telling investors that it is developing an Ultra Cruise system that will enable hands-free driving on every paved, public road in the U.S. and Canada. GM says Ultra Cruise will be capable of handling 95 percent of all driving scenarios. The all-new driver-assistance technology will debut on some Cadillac models in 2023. I would imagine that it will be available on Cadillac’s new flagship 2023 Cadillac LYRIQ EV.
GM and Ford just settled a very public spat over the use of the term Cruise. GM already is using a system called Super Cruise that is said by many to be more effective than Tesla’s auto pilot. Ford is using the term BlueCruise for its hands-free technology.
Ultra Cruise is an all-new advanced driver-assistance technology that will be even more capable than the Super Cruise technology. According to GM, Ultra Cruise will be able to capable of navigating more than 2 million miles of roads in the U.S. and Canada. The Ultra Cruise system will have the capacity to add another 1.4 million miles of roads eventually. Nearly all of the available hands-free technology can function on highways, Ultra Cruise will also be able to navigate city streets, subdivisions and rural roads.
“Ultra Cruise is not just a game changer in terms of what it enables − a door-to-door hands-free driving experience − but a technological one as well," said Doug Parks, GM executive vice president of Global Product Development, Purchasing and Supply Chain. “It's been developed completely in-house.”
GM says the new Ultra Cruise will be reserved for premium models. It will debut on some Cadillacs in 2023. The Super Cruise driver-assist technology will be available on more mainstream vehicles.
“The combination of Ultra Cruise for premium offerings and Super Cruise for lower-cost products will enable us to offer driver-assist technology across price points and segments,” said Parks.
Ultra Cruise will exist on the Ultifi software platform and Vehicle Intelligence Platform. Ultra Cruise will be able add features and services through over-the-air updates. Ultra Cruise expands on Super Cruise with new automated driving features.
Ultra Cruise Will Add the Ability to:
- React to permanent traffic control devices
- Follow internal navigation routes
- Follow changing speed limits
- Support on-demand lane changes
- Support left and right-hand turns
- Support close object avoidance
- Support parking in residential driveways
Ultra Cruise Components
Ultra Cruise works through a combination of cameras, radars and LiDAR. It takes a full 360-degree assessment of everything around the vehicle and uses that to chart its path.
“We believe that the combination of different sensors, or sensor fusion, leads to the most robust hands-free driver-assist system for our customers,” said Parks.
Ultra Cruise will use the same Driver Attention Camera System found in Super Cruise to make sure that the driver is staying engaged and can take over the driving immediately, if necessary. Ultra Cruise will also have a new Dynamic Display, located directly in the driver’s line of sight. It’s designed to help drivers stay focused on the road. There will also be an Ultra Cruise app that will appear in the center display when the vehicle is parked, giving the driver statistics about the vehicle’s trip. Ultra Cruise advanced driver-assist will be available on select Cadillac models in 2023. Cadillac was also first to introduce the Super Cruise advanced driver-assist technology. GM isn’t saying yet what models will be included in the roll out or when other brands like Chevrolet and GMC will have access to the new technology.
Follow Mary Conway at @maryconwaymedia and send her car news tips for future stories.