GM’s Super Cruise will cover 400,000 miles in North America, doubling coverage

Super Cruise, General Motors’ Advanced Hands-Free Driver Assistance System (ADAS), will soon be available on many more roads in North America. GM announced today that, by the end of the year, the ADAS system will be able to operate on 400,000 miles of roads, including undivided highways, which would essentially double Super Cruise’s current coverage in the United States and Canada. .

It represents a major expansion of Super Cruise’s capabilities at a time when U.S. regulators are taking a closer look at driver assistance features and safety advocates are calling for more transparency, citing research showing how new technologies can create security risks inadvertently.

Launched in 2017 with the Cadillac CT6, Super Cruise uses information from the car’s built-in cameras and radar sensors, GPS data and lidar map data collected by the company to enable hands-free driving and, in some cases, gear changes. automatic lane. Combine this capability with a driver monitoring system that uses an infrared camera to make sure the driver pays attention to the road in case Super Cruise needs to return control to the driver.

Unlike Tesla’s Autopilot, which can be activated on almost any freeway or road as long as the system detects visible lane markers, drivers are currently only able to use Super Cruise on split highways that GM has laser mapped and approved for use. So far, this included only 200,000 miles of restricted highways with concrete barriers dividing opposing traffic lanes.

But, starting at the end of the year, drivers of vehicles like Chevy Silverado, GMC Hummer EV or Cadillac Lyriq will be able to use Super Cruise on non-divided state and federal highways, which are sometimes called routes, main roads connecting multiple cities. small and cities. This includes the famous US Route 66, which runs from Chicago to Los Angeles; the Pacific Coast Highway, which runs along the California coast; the Overseas Highway, which connects Miami to the Florida Keys; and the Trans-Canada Highway, which crosses the country from east to west.

“Super Cruise is really helping to redefine vehicle ownership and is really part of our broader path to autonomy at General Motors,” Super Cruise Chief Engineer Mario Maiorana said in a briefing with reporters.

For new GM vehicles built on the automaker’s “VIP electric architecture”, the expansion will be available later this year and will be delivered at no additional cost via an over-the-air software update. Vehicles not built on the VIP electric architecture, which include the Cadillac CT6 and XT6 and the Chevy Bolt EUV, will have to wait a little longer. GM intends Super Cruise to be available in 22 models by the end of 2023.

On a parallel track, the Super Cruise expansion is a step towards the much more ambitious Ultra Cruise, which GM says will cover “95 percent” of the driving business and debut in a handful of premium vehicles starting in 2023. (GM said the two systems will “coexist”, with Super Cruise available in more “mainstream” vehicles while Ultra Cruise will be reserved for the automaker’s luxury models.)

But there are still a lot of driving tasks that Super Cruise won’t be able to handle. The system does not interface with the vehicle’s navigation system in a way that allows drivers to enter a destination and let the car make all necessary turns and lane changes.

Also, Super Cruise cannot handle road signs and stop signs, which means that the system will alert the driver when an intersection is 350 meters away (or 500 meters for non-VIP vehicles) so that he can take control of the vehicle. And Super Cruise will not allow automatic lane changes on two-lane highways. In other words, it will not cross either the broken yellow road signs or the full yellow ones.

What of which will be able to handle driving on a larger section of complex road types. For example, some sections of the Pacific Coast Highway are extremely curvy with only minimal minimal space between opposite traffic lanes. According to GM, the high-definition map system’s use of those roads will allow him to tackle every turn safely and securely.

“With a high-definition LIDAR-generated map, we can see beyond what the vehicle’s sensors can,” said David Craig, GM’s head of maps. “So we know the curvature of the oncoming road, we know the speed we need to be able to overcome that curvature, and we have control of the speed longitudinally.”

Super Cruise is a Level 2 system only, based on the six vehicle range levels designated by SAE International and federal regulatory authorities. With level 2, the human driver must be watching the road and ready to take control. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration now requires automakers to provide data on accidents that occur with these Tier 2 systems activated.

Super Cruise options for around $ 2,200 for the Chevy Bolt EUV, but prices vary from model to model. GM has no plans to raise prices for the system, but the automaker has expressed a desire to sell more features as monthly subscriptions instead of a one-time fee. (Tesla sells its Tier 2 “Full Self Driving” beta system as a subscription of $ 199 per month or as an upfront fee of $ 12,000.)

ADAS is becoming much more common in vehicles, with a variety of models in all different price ranges offering features like adaptive cruise control, blind spot detection, pedestrian alerts and lane centering. While still level 2, Super Cruise is more advanced, allowing drivers to completely take their hands off the wheel. And researchers are studying what happens to a driver’s attention when he is not in total control of the vehicle’s operations but is still expected to remain fully engaged in driving.

Maiorana called the driver monitoring system “the core” of Super Cruise’s safety approach, but acknowledged that it was primarily a more practical feature than that designed to improve driving safety.

“The advantage you get is that the Super Cruise system itself handles the mundane part of driving: the steering, the deceleration, the braking,” he said. “I realize that when I drive Super Cruise, I am attentive, I am looking at the road, and yet – and I am not a neuroscientist at all – I arrive at my destination, feeling much more relaxed”.

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