The GM Cruise AV is one high-tech piece of driving machinery, with an array of no fewer than 40 different sensors whose sole job is to gather as much data as possible about the driving environment so that the onboard computer can make well-informed decisions about how to accelerate, brake, and steer its way through the world. While based on the regular production Chevrolet Bolt EV, 40% of the Cruise AV’s parts content is unique to that vehicle, GM says.
Naturally, the sensor array contains plenty of redundancy, incorporating duplicate sensors that are ready to take over and provide adequate sensory data should other sensors fail or fall victim to mud, slush, and other hazards. And of course, there are four different sides of the vehicle over which to watch, so much of the duplication of sensors on the GM Cruise AV is simply done with the objective of ensuring complete coverage.
Still, 40 sensors is quite a lot. Just take a look at this graphic from General Motors to get a sense of what it takes to feed the automaker’s autonomous driving system a complete view of the surrounding world:
As you can see, a total of 14 cameras pointed in every which direction track objects in the environment like traffic lights, pedestrians, and cyclists. An array of 3 LIDAR (LIght Detection And Ranging) sensors bounce lasers off of the vehicle’s surroundings to create a three-dimensional map of every topographical and geographical feature in the landscape, not to mention other commuters.
But more than half of the sensors on the GM Cruise AV are of the common RADAR (RAdio Detection And Ranging) variety, bouncing radio waves off of the vehicle’s environment to establish the location, distance, and even travel speed of surrounding features. This includes 8 stationary long-range RADARs to detect nearby vehicles and their respective travel speeds at long distances, and 10 low-cost, ultra-short-range RADARs to detect objects more within the vehicle’s immediate proximity.
Additionally, a trio of articulating RADARs provide a wide field of view with long-range sensing to keep watch while the vehicle goes through unprotected turns and intersections, and to flag double-parked vehicles.
General Motors has billed the GM Cruise AV as “the first production-ready car with no steering wheel or pedals,” and the automaker wants to start deploying the cars as early as next year. To keep up-to-date with the latest GM Cruise Automation news, be sure to check back in here at GM Authority.