One of the big criticisms systems like Ford’s Blue Cruise and GM’s Super Cruise have endured is that they don’t work almost everywhere like Tesla’s autopilot. But, the flip side is that these other systems are hands free when engaged. They’re not “eyes free,” and you still have to pay attention, but you can at least let your hands rest and stretch a bit as needed while going down the road. But, a recent announcement from GM shows that the gap between these systems is going to get a lot more narrow this year.
Today, General Motors announced that Super Cruise, which it says is the industry’s first true hands-free driver assistance system, will be expanded to allow it to operate on even more roads in the near future. Hundreds of thousands of additional miles of roads in the United States and Canada may now be driven hands-free as a result of expanding the Super Cruise road network twofold.
“GM is all in when it comes to accessible advanced driver assistance technology. We are adding Super Cruise to more vehicles than ever, and on more roads for more customers to experience,” said Mario Maiorana, GM chief engineer, Super Cruise. “We are pursuing what we believe to be the most comprehensive path to autonomy in the industry with responsible deployment of automated driving technology like Super Cruise at the core of what we do.”
Super Cruise can now be used on marked, divided highways known as interstates. This expansion will allow Super Cruise to work on a wider range of state and federal roadways, including those with only minor changes. The following routes are some of the most notable ones getting gradually incorporated into the network as a result of this development:
- The Mother Road, or US Route 66 (Route six six)
- The Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) – CA Route 1
- The Overseas Highway – US Route 1
- The Trans-Canada Highway (South Park’s “Only Road”)
When the vehicle’s precision LiDAR map data, real-time cameras, radars, and GPS are all working together under “sensor fusion,” the car is driven along the lane path for a hands-free driving experience. These systems work in tandem to create a sensory zone around the vehicle that improves driver comfort and convenience by keeping it centered in the lane and elevating motorists’ confidence.
The vehicle’s speed is adjusted using the set point, and it steers to maintain lane position. When available on select models, both driver-initiated lane changes and automatic passing of slower traffic may be done in order to pass slower traffic and move from a lane that may be ending while monitoring the driver’s head position and/or eyes in relation to the road to ensure attention.
The expansion will be available later this year and will be delivered at no extra cost, over-the-air, starting in 2022 on Super Cruise-equipped models for new vehicles in the GM portfolio utilizing the VIP electrical architecture.
While this won’t quite put the system functioning on all of the roads you could engage Autopilot on, it narrows the gap and the system is still hands-free. This could make for a much closer competition in the eyes of buyers.
Featured image provided by GM.
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