GM is preparing for another major expansion of its hands-free Super Cruise system

General Motors may be struggling when it comes to fully autonomous driving, but the company is still optimistic about the future of hands-free driving. Today the company announced plans to expand its Super Cruise advanced driver assistance system, which allows drivers to take their hands off the wheel on certain roads, to nearly double the mileage it previously covered.

Today, Super Cruise operates on 250,000 miles of roads in the US and Canada. The company plans to add approximately 40,000 miles of new roads every quarter over the course of two years, so that Super Cruise will cover approximately 750,000 miles in the US and Canada by the end of 2025.

Launched in 2017 with the Cadillac CT6, Super Cruise uses information from cameras and radar sensors embedded in the car, GPS data and lidar mapping data to enable hands-free driving and, in some cases, automatic lane changing. It combines this capability with a driver monitoring system that uses an infrared camera to ensure the driver keeps their eyes on the road at all times in case Super Cruise needs to return control to the driver.

For years, Super Cruise was limited to divided highways that GM had laser-mapped and approved for use. But starting with model year 2023 vehicles, the company began adding undivided state and federal highways, known as routes: major roads that connect smaller cities and towns. That includes popular roads like US Route 66, the Pacific Coast Highway, the Overseas Highway and the Trans-Canada Highway.

GM says it will continue to add more routes and undivided highways in the coming years to expand Super Cruise’s operational domain. According to David Craig, head of maps at GM, these will include “two-lane highways designed to connect the small towns, the more rural areas and the backwoods areas where people take their RVs and campers and go hiking, hunting and camping. .”

“the more rural areas, the rear forest areas”

For its mapping data, GM has contracted with a Michigan-based company called Dynamic Map Platform, which operates a fleet of vehicles that scan “every mile of road” using lidar laser sensors, Craig said. Those maps are then fed back into GM’s central system, which sends out quarterly software updates to ensure each vehicle is running the most updated version of the map.

Super Cruise’s capabilities remain the same and the system won’t be able to handle new driving scenarios such as traffic lights and four-way stops, said Jeff Miller, product manager for Super Cruise.

The company recently stopped using its “Ultra Cruise” brand, which was intended as its major rival to Tesla, and instead decided to merge the team working on it with its Super Cruise division. Ultra Cruise was intended to cover “95 percent of driving scenarios” on more than 2 million kilometers of road.

To be fair, GM says it’s approaching the concept of hands-free driving as safely and gently as possible. Miller contrasts this approach with Tesla’s Full Self-Driving, which still maintains its status as a beta product despite being available to more than 400,000 Tesla owners in North America.

“We are not going to beta test our customers,” he said, “as some other competitors do.”

Still, GM is chasing Tesla in some respects. The electric carmaker’s Full Self-Driving program is operational on local roads and residential streets and is intended to handle more complex situations such as roundabouts, traffic lights and four-way stops. How well it handles these scenarios is open to debate as regulators and safety experts continue to evaluate and study the technology.

What is clear is that dozens of people have died while using Tesla Autopilot, and at least one person appears to have died in an accident while using Full Self-Driving. Miller says this is not the case with Super Cruise.

“Our customers have driven Super Cruise completely hands-free for 100 million miles,” he said, “and not a single accident has been attributed to Super Cruise.”

That’s not to say that an accident won’t happen one day, especially as Super Cruise expands its card and becomes available to more customers. “I mean, it could be,” Miller said. “We have designed the system as robust as possible.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *