Super Cruise will no longer serve as GM’s flagship Level 2 hands-free driver-assist system, as the company is announcing the availability of Ultra Cruise. The new setup, previously announced last year, is now set to debut in certain GM vehicles in 2023, with Cadillac being the first brand to offer the feature.
What separates Ultra Cruise from Super Cruise? Well, the short answer is that it brings the highway-only hands-free driving of Super Cruise to local roads and city streets. GM notes Ultra Cruise is capable of working on more than 2,000,000 miles worth of public roads in the United States and Canada.
Although it’s easy to describe Ultra Cruise as Super Cruise for the streets, the setup is more complex than that. Credit Ultra Cruise’s LiDAR system (located behind the windshield), which works with various cameras and sensors to accurately “see” the environment around it. As such, GM claims Ultra Cruise is capable of reacting to traffic signals, following posted speed limits, avoiding objects in its way, parking in driveways, and completing lane changes, as well as left and right turns.
As with Super Cruise, Ultra Cruise uses a steering-wheel-mounted lightbar to alert drivers of the system’s status. It also includes an in-car camera system to ensure the driver is ready to take control of the car if necessary.
GM’s keeping mum on Ultra Cruise pricing, however, we wager the option’s cost will change slightly depending on the specific model a customer adds it to. We presume the setup will come with an introductory trial period that allows vehicle owners to use Ultra Cruise for a few years free of charge, after which the automaker will likely charge a subscription fee to keep Ultra Cruise active. We have about two years to find out.
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