General Motors already has a Level 2 Super Cruise autopilot, which allows you to drive "hands-free" on American highways. The system includes three radars in the front and four in the rear, a frontal stereo camera, four HD all-around lenses, and ultra-detailed navigation maps. Actually, it is the availability of such maps that limits the scope of the Super Cruise: when the system debuted in 2017, 209,000 kilometers of U.S. highways were approved for autopilot, and now they have been increased to about 300,000 kilometers. Initially Super Cruise was put only on Cadillac cars, but now it is also available for Chevrolet models (Silverado pickup, Bolt electric cars). But a new generation system called Ultra Cruise has been announced, which should be even better than the promising Full Self-Driving system on Tesla.
The fundamental difference between the new autopilot and Super Cruise is the presence of lidar (in addition to radar and cameras), which is installed behind the windshield, allows high-precision recognition of objects in front of the car and works at any time of day. Previously, GM only used the lidar to build those very navigation maps for the Super Cruise. It is stated that autopilot with on-board lidar will allow the driver to take his hands off the wheel in 95% of road situations, and such system will be able to work on all paved public roads that are in the U.S. and Canada. In the first stage 3.2 million kilometers of roads will be approved, and eventually this figure will reach 5.5 million kilometers.
Ultra Cruise will be able to comply with posted speed limits, lane-changing, and parking. In the cabin, as with Super Cruise cars, there will be a separate camera that makes sure the driver is not distracted from the road. An over-the-air software update is also provided. The first production Cadillac cars with Ultra Cruise autopilot will be available in 2023