General Motors has provided new details about its next-gen assisted driving system — Ultra Cruise — which prioritizes driver safety. GM announced Ultra Cruise in 2021 as the successor to Super Cruise, a semi-autonomous driving system that debuted in 2017. While Super Cruise is one of the few driver assistance systems capable of supporting hands-free driving in the U.S., GM claims Ultra Cruise will eventually work on around 3.5 million miles of roads, including highways and city streets.
Similar to how Super Cruise debuted, GM says Ultra Cruise will initially be available for Cadillac models starting with the $300,000 Celestiq. According to GM, Ultra Cruise is positioned to ultimately offer hands-free driving in 95 percent of all driving scenarios. Among its features are a distinct sensor suite capable of offering a 360° camera view, a driver attention system, long and radars, and LiDAR.
What Ultra Cruise Means For Future Cars
Ultra Cruise will feature a monitoring system that utilizes infrared light to scrutinize the driver’s head position to ensure they’re paying close attention to the road. The system uses a tiny camera found on top of the steering column. GM confirms that the platform will be powered by Qualcomm SoCs. A combination of long-distance and short-distance cameras will aid Ultra Cruise in recognizing objects like traffic signs and sense walkers crossing the street.
LiDAR positioned behind the windshield will provide a multifaceted view of the scene and do better in terms of perceiving objects and road features like cars and lane markings respectively. When blended with the other sensors, LiDAR should optimize the technology’s overall performance even in unfavorable weather conditions. According to GM’s Ultra Cruise chief engineer — Jason Ditman — “A deep knowledge of what Ultra Cruise is capable of, along with the detailed picture provided by its sensors, will help us (GM) understand when Ultra Cruise can be engaged and when to hand control back to the driver.”
While Ultra Cruise promises an even wider range of features, its impending arrival raises concerns about how drivers treat these assisted systems. Last year, a study found that many GM and Tesla drivers treat their vehicles as fully autonomous, a habit that not only misrepresents the systems’ true abilities, but reflects a lack of understanding of how the tech works. Meanwhile, it’s worth noting that GM has received positive reviews for Super Cruise, with Consumer Reviews ranking it ahead of Tesla’s Autopilot in terms of competence.
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- How GM’s Ultra Cruise Will Improve Driver Safety
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