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GM Ultra Cruise Will Bring Hands-Free Driving to City Streets

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2021 Cadillac Escalade
Photo: Cadillac

Despite the production delays that the auto industry has been hit with this spring, some automakers are still making steady progress on driverless car technology. GM recently announced an extension of its Super Cruise hands-free system that would help bring autonomous vehicle technology to city streets.

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Meet GM Ultra Cruise

The new hands-free city driving product is called Ultra Cruise. Doug Parks, vice president of global product development at GM, expressed the brand’s vision for this technology. He views it as an evolution of Super Cruise that would cater to urban drivers. “Ultra Cruise would be all of the Super Cruise plus the neighborhoods, city streets, and subdivisions,” he said. “So, Ultra Cruise’s domain would be  essentially all driving, all the time.”

Parks was silent on when GM expected to release Ultra Cruise to the American market. It’s also worth noting that this technology will enable semi-autonomous, rather than fully-autonomous, driving. Though, Parks did indicate that this could be an eventual goal for the Ultra Cruise.

Putting pressure on the competition

GM’s Ultra Cruise would make the automaker’s lineup more competitive with rivals that currently offer (or will soon offer) hands-free driving technologies. It would also give Tesla’s Autopilot advanced driving system a run for the money, as Reuters pointed out.

Per The Detroit News’ Henry Payne, Ultra Cruise is expected to have a more gradual release compared to Tesla’s hands-free system. Guidehouse Insight auto analyst Sam Abuelsamid estimates that GM will unroll Ultra Cruise in 2023, the year that V2X infrastructure is expected to launch. This would enhance the safety of the semi-autonomous platform.

We’ll have to hold our breaths for a while longer to find out more details about Ultra Cruise and which GM models will have this feature. In the meantime, why not read up on Cruise Automation’s first fully-driverless car? And discover how some U.S. cities are already establishing rules to prepare for more AVs on the roads.

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