GM Ultra Cruise
GM Ultra Cruise is an upcoming semi-autonomous driver assistance feature that will join GM’s lineup of hands-free advanced driver-assist systems on select models in 2023, with Cadillac being the first to introduce the technology.
While the technology has been designed to ultimately enable hands-free driving in 95 percent of all driving scenarios, Ultra Cruise can eventually be used on every paved road in the United States and Canada. At launch, Ultra Cruise will cover more than 2 million miles of roads in the two countries, which includes city streets, subdivision streets and paved rural roads, in addition to highways.
“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,” said Doug Parks, GM executive vice president of Global Product Development, Purchasing and Supply Chain. “It’s been developed completely in-house.”
Ultra Cruise vs. Super Cruise
Before diving into the finer details of Ultra Cruise, it is important to first understand how it differs from Super Cruise, which allows the vehicle’s driver to remove their hands from the steering wheel while driving on compatible highways. By comparison, Ultra Cruise is expected to add to that by allowing drivers to drive with their hands off the wheel in the city.
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 combination of Ultra Cruise for premium offerings and Super Cruise for lower-cost products will enable us to offer driver-assist technology across price points and segments,” said Parks.
To note, Ultra Cruise will not be a fully-autonomous system. It will still require drivers to watch the road ahead and make inputs when needed.
How It Works
GM’s Ultra Cruise technology works through a combination of cameras, radars and LiDAR, developing accurate, 360-degree, three-dimensional statistical representations of the environment surrounding vehicles with redundancies in critical areas. Ultra Cruise also incorporates an integrated LiDAR behind the windshield.
“We believe that the combination of different sensors, or sensor fusion, leads to the most robust hands-free driver-assist system for our customers,” said Parks
Smart diagnostic and learning systems automatically identify scenarios where Ultra Cruise needs upgrading, triggering data recordings in vehicles equipped with the service. These recordings will then be processed through GM’s back office data ecosystem for continuous improvement of the system.
Ultra Cruise is powered by a 5-nanometer, scalable compute architecture future-proofed through the Ultifi software platform and Vehicle Intelligence Platform. Ultra Cruise can add features, functions and services over time through frequent over-the-air updates.
Another key component of Ultra Cruise is its Human Machine Interface, which lets the driver know when they need to be in control of the vehicle. Building on the HMI currently used in Super Cruise, Ultra Cruise’s HMI also shows drivers that they and the system are seeing the same thing. 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.
Ultra Cruise builds on the capabilities of Super Cruise with new automated driving features intended to:
- 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; 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
- The system also features full 360-degree perception around the vehicle.
As such, Ultra Cruise is a significant next step in the company’s journey to enable its goal of zero crashes, zero emissions and zero congestion.
As stated, Ultra Cruise is set to roll out on select models in 2023, with Cadillac being the first to introduce the technology.
- September 2018: GM files to trademark Ultra Cruise with the USPTO.
- February 2020: GM Authority catches a potential Ultra Cruise development prototype testing on a Cadillac CT5.
- May 2020: during the company’s Q1 2020 earnings call, GM CEO Mary Barra references Ultra Cruise.
- June 2020: during a fireside chat with journalists via telephone, GM CEO Mary Barra states that Ultra Cruise will deliver “additional capabilities” that “will enhance safety and provide the driver with more convenience” compared to Super Cruise. Additionally, Barra said that Ultra Cruise “will take care of many more situations by expanding on Super Cruise, taking it much farther.”
- December 2020: GM Authority catches another prototype testing Ultra Cruise, this time a Cadillac CT4-V. The prototype appears to have the same roof-mounted hardware as the CT5 spotted in February 2020. The CT4-v was testing with a Cadillac CT6, which had a different roof-mounted hardware configuration.
- October 2021: General Motors officially announces Ultra Cruise