General Motors is developing a more advanced version of Super Cruise that will take the advanced driver-assist feature from the highway into the city.
Speaking Tuesday during a webinar hosted by Citi, Doug Parks, head of global product development and purchasing at GM, said the automaker was working on a version of Super Cruise that would function in “neighborhoods, city streets and subdivisions.”
He referred to the more advanced system as “Ultra Cruise,” and said GM had a “big team” working on it.
No timeline for the system’s arrival was mentioned, according to TechCrunch, and the wait could be a long one as Parks said GM was also working on updates for the existing Super Cruise system. The system was last updated in 2019 to cover 200,000 miles of highways in the United States and Canada, and later this year it will receive the ability for automatic lane changes.
Parks said Ultra Cruise, like Super Cruise, will be a driver-assist feature and not a fully self-driving system. This means the system, initially at least, would require constant monitoring by the driver in case it fails. This ranks it at only Level 2 on the SAE scale for self-driving capability. Level 5 is the level at which cars will have the same capabilities as a human driver, though reaching this level could be decades away.
Super Cruise is currently designed for single-lane, limited-access highway driving and lets you sit back and relax without worrying about gripping the steering wheel every few seconds like some rival drive-assist systems. But to ensure you’re concentrating, the system uses a detection system that monitors eye movements. If it thinks you’re not paying attention or requires you to take control and you fail to do so, the system will issue a series of warnings and ultimately bring the vehicle to a controlled stop.
Super Cruise relies on multiple data inputs to control the vehicle including adaptive cruise control to maintain a safe following distance to the car in front, plus lane-centering technology that relies on cameras to detect lane markings. This data is also compared to GPS and lidar mapping data which knows which lane on the highway you’re currently in and any changes in elevation or pavement coming up ahead.
Super Cruise was launched in 2017 exclusively in the Cadillac CT6 and will soon be added to the redesigned 2021 Escalade and new 2021 CT4 and CT5 sedans. It will then spread to all Cadillac models before being rolled out to other GM brands.