This green light means you can take your hands off the wheel. Just keep your eyes on the road!
Mack Hogan | CNBC
DETROIT – General motors is expanding its Super Cruise hands-free driving system in the U.S. and Canada later this year, bringing the feature to non-interstate roads and highways like Route 66 and the Pacific Coast Highway.
With the additional roads, the driver assistance system will be used on more than 400,000 miles of U.S. and Canadian roads, compared to about 200,000 miles of strictly divided highway interstates.
“These are the major roads that connect smaller cities and towns across the United States and Canada,” GM map specialist David Craig said at a media briefing. “It’s expanding Super Cruise is available to many millions more customers.
Use of Super Cruise sensor and camera system control the car’s steering, braking and acceleration functions without the driver’s intervention. It also uses high-resolution maps; light bar to communicate with the driver; and an in-vehicle monitoring system to ensure drivers remain alert while Super Cruise is in operation.
This feature, even when upgraded, won’t make turns on behalf of the driver or work in cities, towns and residential streets like some of Tesla’s driver assistance systems. Super Cruise will also give drivers back control of the vehicle if they are approaching an intersection with a stop sign or traffic light.
Despite names like Super Cruise or Tesla Branded as Autopilot and “fully self-driving”, these vehicles are not autonomous or safe to operate without a driver behind the wheel.
GM said the latest Super Cruise roads will be able to be updated wirelessly or remotely starting in the fourth quarter of this year for most eligible vehicles. GM won’t charge for the upgrade, but the optional extra currently costs between $2,200 and $2,500, depending on the vehicle.
GM is expanding its Super Cruise hands-free driving system in the U.S. and Canada to 400,000 miles of roads later this year,
GM has been slowly increasing the availability and capabilities of the Super Cruise since it was introduced in 2017. By the end of next year, it plans to offer Super Cruise in 23 models worldwide. Also announced is a new system called Ultra Cruise, According to GM, it will be able to handle the driving in 95% of scenarios.
GM’s level of superior quality may make the company more directly competitive with Elon Musk– led electric car manufacturer Tesla. Tesla’s driver assistance systems include the standard Autopilot and a Premium option marketed as Full Self-Driving (or FSD), as well as an FSD Beta version that allows drivers to test the features on public roads before they go into widespread use.
Driver assistance systems have increased regulatory focusespecially for accidents involving Tesla vehicles.
Mario Maiorana, GM’s chief engineer for Super Cruise, said the company is in constant communication with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration about building additional roads.
“We’re not going to release it until we’ve fully tested it,” Maiorana said, taking a slight swipe at Tesla, which is proposing improvements. Beta systems for some owners.
GM’s Super Cruise hasn’t received as much attention or scrutiny as Tesla’s system, in part because of the extra safeguards and the company’s more conservative approach. GM also only sold about 40,000 Super Cruise cars, while Tesla offers some of its own systems in every vehicle it offers.
NHTSA reported in early July that more than 30 probes since 2016 when they collided with Tesla cars where driver assistance systems such as Autopilot were the suspected factor. The same report noted that the federal motor vehicle watchdog was investigating two non-fatal incidents that may have involved Super Cruise.
According to the agency, the Tesla crashes currently under investigation have resulted in the deaths of 16 vehicle occupants or pedestrians.
Automakers are required by law to report fatal and other serious crashes involving driver assistance systems to NHTSA.
– CNBC Laura Kolodny contributed to this report.