GM are developing a new semi-autonomous driving system that’s internally being referred to as “Ultra Cruise”, a city-street-capable evolution of their current Super Cruise system that can operate on highways.
Being able to operate on city streets, as well as expanded motorway capabilities such as lane changing and negotiating exit ramps, would better position GM’s technology against Tesla’s Autopilot driver-assist system.
Tesla released the first version of Autopilot in 2015. GM launched Super Cruise two years later, and have been much more conservative than Tesla in rolling out technology of this nature. Unlike Autopilot, Super Cruise is limited to the limited-access freeways in the U.S. and Canada—more than 320,000 kilometres’ worth—that have been mapped with high-definition lidar technology to assist the on-board system of cameras, radars and sensors. It also uses facial recognition to identify whether the driver is paying attention so there’s no need for drivers to touch the steering wheel while the system is operating.
GM announced plans earlier this year to expand Super Cruise to 22 vehicles by 2023, including ten models by next year.