GM unveils a hands-free driving system that works in nearly all of the US and Canada

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GM and Cadillac drivers have spent traveled than 10 million miles with their hands in their laps since General Motors introduced its Super Cruise driver assist system back in 2017. On Wednesday, the company unveiled its next-generation hands-free system — one that GM claims will “ultimately enable hands-free driving in 95 percent of all driving scenarios” — dubbed, Ultra Cruise.

What sets Ultra Cruise apart from similar systems, such as Ford’s BlueCruise, is that Ultra is designed to work virtually everywhere in the US and Canada. At launch, the system is expected to work on 2 million miles of North American roads — that includes highways, city and subdivision streets, and paved rural roads — and will eventually expand to encompass some 3.4 million miles of asphalt.

If you’ve just bought a Super Cruise-enabled vehicle (or are planning to buy one of the 22 models GM will have available by 2023), don’t worry, it’s not going anywhere. GM plans to continue offering Super Cruise for its more mainstream vehicles such as the Escalade, CT4/CT5, Silverado and Sierra while Ultra Cruise will be reserved for the company’s premium offerings. GM hasn’t specified which vehicle will be the first to get it, though the company did note that select 2023 Cadillacs will be at the head of the line. 

Built atop GM’s recently announced Ultifi (again, rhymes with “multiply”) computing system and leveraging myriad optical cameras, radar and LiDAR sensors, Ultra Cruise will support automatic and on-demand lane changes, left and right turns, obey traffic signals, avoid obstacles and even park itself in residential driveways. Further improvements and refinements to the system will be delivered to vehicles via OTA updates. To avoid Tesla-style wrecks, GM will port Super Cruise’s Driver Attention Camera system over to the new system.

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