Saturday, August 20, 2022

GM’s Super Cruise will cover 400K miles in North America, doubling its coverage

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Super Cruise, General Motors’ “hands-free” Advanced Driver Assistance System (ADAS), will soon be available on many more roads in North America. GM announced today that the ADAS system will be able to operate on 400,000 miles of roads, including undivided highways, later this year — essentially doubling Super Cruise’s current coverage in the US and Canada.

It represents a major expansion of Super Cruise’s capabilities at a time when U.S. regulators are scrutinizing driver assistance features and calling on safety lawyers to more transparency, citing research that shows how new technology can inadvertently create security risks.

Launched in 2017 with the Cadillac CT6, Super Cruise uses information from cameras and radar sensors built into the car, GPS data and lidar map data collected by the company to enable hands-free driving and, in some cases, automatic lane changes. to make possible. It couples this capability with a driver monitoring system that uses an infrared camera to ensure that the driver pays attention to the road in case Super Cruise has to put the driver back in control.

Unlike Tesla’s Autopilot, which can be activated on almost any freeway or road as long as the system sees visible lane markings, drivers can currently only use Super Cruise on GM laser-mapped and approved for use highways. Until now, that included just 200,000 miles of limited-access highways with concrete barriers separating opposing lanes.

But starting later this year, drivers of vehicles like the Chevy Silverado, GMC Hummer EV or Cadillac Lyriq will be able to use Super Cruise on undivided state and federal highways, which are sometimes referred to as routes — major roads connecting smaller towns and cities. That includes the famous US Route 66, which runs from Chicago to Los Angeles; the Pacific Coast Highway, which runs along the California coastline; the Overseas Highway, which connects Miami to the Florida Keys; and the Trans-Canada Highway, which crosses the country from east to west.

“Super Cruise is really helping to redefine vehicle ownership and it’s really part of our wider path to autonomy at General Motors,” Super Cruise chief engineer Mario Maiorana said in a briefing with reporters.

For new GM vehicles built on the automaker’s “VIP electric architecture,” the extension will be available later this year and delivered at no additional cost via an over-the-air software update. Vehicles not built on the VIP electric architecture, including the Cadillac CT6 and XT6 and the Chevy Bolt EUV, will have to wait a little longer. GM wants Super Cruise to be available in 22 models by the end of 2023.

On a parallel track, the Super Cruise expansion is a step toward the much more ambitious Ultra Cruise, which GM has said will cover “95 percent” of driving duties and will debut in a handful of premium vehicles from 2023. (GM has said the two systems will “coexist,” with Super Cruise being available in more “regular” vehicles, while Ultra Cruise will be reserved for the automaker’s luxury models.)

But there are still many driving tasks that Super Cruise can’t handle. The system is not linked to the vehicle’s navigation system in such a way that drivers can enter a destination and allow the car to make all necessary turns and lane changes.

In addition, Super Cruise cannot process traffic lights and stop signs, meaning the system will notify the driver when an intersection is 350 meters away (or 500 meters for non-VIP vehicles), allowing them to take control of the vehicle. And Super Cruise does not allow automatic lane changes on two-lane highways. In other words, it will not cross broken yellow or solid yellow lane markings.

It will be able to drive on a wider complex section of road types. For example, some sections of the Pacific Coast Highway are extremely curvy with only the bare minimum of space between opposing lanes. According to GM, through the use of high-definition maps of those roads, the system will enable you to navigate every turn with confidence and confidence.

“With a high-resolution LIDAR-generated map, we can see beyond what the vehicle sensors can do,” said David Craig, head of maps at GM. “So we know the curvature of the road ahead, we know the speed we need to navigate through that curvature, and we control the longitudinal speed.”

Super Cruise is only a level 2 system, based on the six levels of vehicle autonomy as designated by SAE International and federal regulators. With level 2, the human driver must keep an eye on the road and be ready to take control. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is now requiring automakers to provide data on accidents that occur with these Level 2 systems enabled.

Super Cruise options for about $2,200 for the Chevy Bolt EUV, but prices vary from model to model. GM has no plans to raise prices for the system, but the automaker has expressed a desire to sell more features as monthly subscriptions rather than a one-time fee. (Tesla sells its Level 2 “Full Self Driving” beta system as a $199 per month subscription or as a $12,000 prepayment.)

ADAS is becoming more common in vehicles, with a variety of models in all different price ranges offering features such as adaptive cruise control, blind spot detection, pedestrian warnings and lane centering. While still level 2, Super Cruise is more advanced, allowing drivers to take their hands completely off the wheel. And researchers are studying what happens to a driver’s attention when they don’t fully control the operation of the vehicle, yet remain fully engaged in the driving.

Maiorana called the driver-monitoring system “the hub” of Super Cruise’s approach to safety, but acknowledged that it was primarily a convenience feature rather than one intended to increase driving safety.

“The advantage you get is that the Super Cruise system itself handles the mundane part of driving: the steering, the deceleration, the braking,” he said. “I find that when I’m driving Super Cruise, I’m observant, I’m paying attention to the road, yet — and I’m not a neuroscientist — I arrive at my destination and feel a lot more relaxed.”

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