GM Announces True Hands-free Driving with Ultra Cruise

General Motors Co. in Detroit announced Ultra Cruise, an all-new, advanced driver-assistance technology.
a woman enjoying hands-free driving in a cadillac
GM announced an upgrade to its Super Cruise technology called Ultra Cruise, which will enable hands-free driving in 95 percent of scenarios, available first on 2023 Cadillac models to be announced at a later date. // Courtesy of Cadillac

General Motors Co. in Detroit announced Ultra Cruise, an all-new, advanced driver-assistance technology.

The automaker states the new technology is a significant next step in the company’s journey to enable its goal of creating zeros crashes, zero emissions, and zero congestion that will be available on select models in 2023.

Designed to enable hands-free driving in 95 percent of scenarios, Ultra Cruise will eventually be used on every paved road in the U.S. and Canada. At launch, it will cover more than 2 million miles of roads with the capacity to grow to 3.4 million miles. Cadillac will be the first to introduce the technology.

“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,” says Doug Parks, executive vice president of global product development, purchasing, and supply chain at GM. “It’s been developed completely in-house.”

GM’s two hands-free advanced driver-assist systems will coexist in the company’s lineup with Super Cruise available on more mainstream vehicles and Ultra Cruise reserved for premium entries.

The system is powered by a 5-nanometer scalable computer architecture future-proofed through the Ultifi software platform and vehicle intelligence platform. It builds on the capabilities of Super Cruise with new automated driving features intended to do the following:

  • Provide users with information based on their experience with the system through an all-new dynamic display.
  • React to permanent traffic control devices.
  • Follow internal navigation routes.
  • Maintain headway and follow speed limits.
  • Support automatic and on-demand lane change.
  • Support left and right-hand turns.
  • Support close object avoidance.
  • Support parking in residential driveways.

Smart diagnostic and learning systems automatically identify scenarios where Ultra Cruise needs improvement, triggering data recording in vehicles with the service. These recordings will then be processed through GM’s back-office data ecosystem to ensure continuous improvement.

The system operates through several cameras, radar, and LiDAR that develop accurate, 360-degree, three-dimensional statistical representations of the environment surrounding vehicles with redundancies in critical areas.

Another key component of Ultra Cruise is its Human Machine Interface (HMI). Through this, the system presents information to the driver and communicates when they need to in control of the vehicle. It builds on the HMI used in Super Cruise and shows drivers that they and the system are seeing the same things.

The primary HMI in Ultra Cruise-equipped vehicles, the Ultra Cruise Dynamic Display, is a freeform display directly in the driver’s line of sight. It’s designed to help drivers stay focused on the road.

Ultra Cruise’s HMI strategy also includes helping the driver to stay engaged behind the wheel, ready to take over if required. Super Cruise’s Driver Attention Camera system will be carried over to Ultra Cruise.

GM is also developing an Ultra Cruise app that will be viewable in the center display of Ultra Cruise-equipped vehicles only when the vehicle is parked. The app will provide more centrally located information, including driver’s statistics, trips, and history.