General Motors is Doubling its Super Cruise Hands-Free Driving Network to 400,000 Miles of Roads in North America

General Motors is Doubling its Super Cruise Hands-Free Driving Network to 400,000 Miles of Roads in North America

Author: Eric Walz   

General Motors is expanding its Super Cruise network in North America by doubling the number of roads where drivers can activate the hand-free automated highway driving feature. The automaker announced it's adding hundreds of thousands of additional miles of roads in the U.S. and Canada to the Super Cruise network.

Super Cruise is similar to Tesla's Autopilot. However, unlike Tesla's more enhanced Full Self Driving (FSD) beta feature designed to operate on secondary roads, Super Cruise is intended for hands-free highway cruising. It currently works on roughly 200,000 miles of divided interstate highways in North America and soon will be expanded to around 400,000 miles.

The expanded network will enable Super Cruise to work on many more state and federal roads, which includes a combination of undivided and divided highway roads. One of the new additions is the historic Route 66, which stretches from Illinois to California. 

GM also added the famed Pacific Coast Highway (Route 1) is California, which allows drivers to travel along the scenic Pacific coast from San Francisco to Los Angeles. Other new additions include the Overseas Highway in Florida, which connects Key West to the U.S. mainland near Miami. 

In Canada, GM is adding the Trans-Canada Highway, which stretches east to west connecting all of Canada's ten provinces. The Trans-Canada Highway is one of the longest highways in the world, with a total length of 4,645 miles.

"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."

For GM vehicles built on its new Vehicle Intelligence Platform (VIP) electrical architecture, the expanded road network will be available later this year and will be delivered at no cost via an over-the-air update on Super Cruise-equipped models later this year.

GM's new VIP electrical architecture debuted on the 2020 Cadillac CT5 sedan. It's capable of managing up to 4.5 terabytes of data processing power per hour for automated driving. It is a fivefold increase in capability over GM's previous electrical architecture and supports smartphone-like over-the-air software updates throughout the life of the vehicle.

The new architecture also provides more rapid communications with Ethernet connections of 100Mbs, 1 Gbps and 10 Gbps.

Super Cruise can be activated by the driver whenever the vehicle is traveling on roads mapped by GM. If a driver is traveling on a mapped road that supports Super Cruise, a symbol will illuminate in white on the instrument cluster. 

Drivers then press the Super Cruise button on the steering wheel to engage Super Cruise, which turns the steering-wheel light bar green. Once the light on the steering wheel turns green, drivers may remove their hands from the steering wheel. 

The system can be immediately disengaged by pressing the Super Cruise button again or tapping the brake pedal. 

When Super Cruise is engaged, the vehicle uses a combination of LiDAR map data, real-time cameras, radars and GPS to keep the vehicle centered in a lane for a hands-free driving. The vehicle sensor data and stitched together in a process called "sensor fusion" to create a 360 degree percetion field around the vehicle that looks out for other vehicles.

Super Cruise also accelerates or brakes the vehicle to maintain a preset distance from a vehicle ahead and steers to maintain lane position. On some GM models, Super Cruise can perform automated lane changes to slower moving traffic. GM made improvements to the rear-facing sensors and advanced software algorithms so that the system can better track vehicles approaching from the rear.

It's important to note that Super Cruise is not considered to be a fully-autonomous driving system. It's classified as a SAE Level 2 system, meaning that the driver must pay attention to the road at all times.

To help ensure that a driver is paying attention, GM's Super Cruise includes a driver monitoring system that uses a camera to track a driver's head position and eye gaze in relation to the road.

In order to use Super Cruise, GM customers must have an eligible Connected Services plan. Super Cruise vehicles are also connected to OnStar Emergency Services, where certified OnStar Advisors can assist drivers should they become non-responsive while Super Cruise is active.

Eric Walz
Eric Walz
Originally hailing from New Jersey, Eric is a automotive & technology reporter covering the high-tech industry here in Silicon Valley. He has over 15 years of automotive experience and a bachelors degree in computer science. These skills, combined with technical writing and news reporting, allows him to fully understand and identify new and innovative technologies in the auto industry and beyond. He has worked at Uber on self-driving cars and as a technical writer, helping people to understand and work with technology.
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