GM unveils a hands-free system that handles 95% of all driving scenarios

General Motors (GM) unveiled a new and more sophisticated advanced hands-free assistance system called the Ultra Cruise during its two-day investor event, which began on Wednesday. press release of the company. The system, which will be available on select models in 2023, will be able to handle 95% of all driving scenarios and will eventually be used on any paved road in the US and Canada, bringing the company closer to its goal. for zero accidents, zero emissions and zero congestion.

Ultra Cruise will be able to automatically change lanes, make left and right turns, obey traffic signals, avoid obstacles and even park in residential alleys using various optical cameras, radar and LiDAR sensors.

At launch, the system will operate 2 million miles (3.2 million km) of North American roads, including highways, city streets, and subdivision streets. The project will then grow to 3.4 million miles (5.5 million km) of asphalt.

The carmaker does not disclose how much buyers will have to pay to add Ultra Cruise as an option to their vehicles, nor whether it will be a one-time fee or a subscription-based fee.

What is different from Super Cruise?

GM is not aiming for a quick and blatant disclosure in 2023; instead, it will follow the same slow-moving strategy as the first introduction of the Super Cruise, the first generation hands-free system to assist the carmaker’s driver, in 2017. For this reason, the newer system will first be available as option in Cadillac cars before gradually expanding to other GM brands such as GMC and Chevrolet.

The new system will take its place in the company’s range next to the Super Cruise, which will be available on “mass vehicles”, while the Ultra Cruise will be reserved for “premium records”.

The Super Cruise resembles Tesla’s autopilot since its launch and is it is often seen as a safer, more competent version. This is thanks to the use of LiDAR cartographic data from Super Cruise, high-precision GPS, cameras and radar sensors, as well as a driver attention system that checks the driver to make sure he is paying attention.

Features of the Ultra Cruise system

And the Ultra Cruise goes one step further, being designed to work on city streets and streets, as well as on paved country roads, in addition to highways, unlike the Super Cruise. Both include LiDAR, which has been a rarity in industrial vehicles due to the high cost associated with the laser sensor and has been opposing computer vision systems in heated debates.

Ultra Cruise is a “route tracking feature” that keeps progress and follows the speed limit, according to Jason Dittmann, GM’s chief engineer, who spoke during a briefing with reporters, reports The Verge.

From support for automatic lane changes and on-demand parking in residential alleys, the Ultra Cruise does have improved capabilities, but won’t be able to handle all types of driving situations. The roundabout, for example, is a form of difficult road situation on which the Ultra Cruise will not be able to move, according to Dittmann.

Despite its impressive capabilities, the Ultra Cruise is still a Level 2 system, GM says, rather than a fully autonomous Level 4 system. Its functionality has become more stable and will be available on more roads, but that still means the driver must be vigilant at all times. When the driver needs to control something, a light bar in the steering wheel will inform them with increasing lights and a haptic input and will alert them through a voice assistant when it is time to sit behind the wheel.

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