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GM is coming directly for Tesla with its new hand-free driving system

GM plans to launch the system in 2022 in the US and Canada.

interior of a cadillac ct4-v
Image: Cadillac

General Motors (GM) just announced Ultra Cruise, its next-generation, Level 2 advanced driver-assistance system. Unlike competing systems, GM says Ultra Cruise is “hands-free” and works for “95 percent of driving scenarios.”

The announcement came as part of GM’s annual investor event, where the carmaker also announced its intentions to become a “platform leader” while transitioning to a software company as well. That should double its revenue by 2030, and possibly make a buffer against the issues all carmakers have been experiencing during the last two years of chip shortages.

The prior driver-assist system, Super Cruise, has won yearly accolades from reviewers like Consumer Reports, who consistently preferred it over Tesla’s Full-Self Driving system. That’s mainly down to GM’s system having a camera trained on the driver at all times to monitor how much attention they’re paying to the road.

Ultra Cruise will “co-exist” with the existing Super Cruise system, adding support for “more than” 2 million miles of paved roads in the US and Canada when it launches in 2022, with eventual support for over 3.4 million miles of roads.

GM President Mark Reuss told reporters from The Verge and other outlets that Ultra Cruise will work on “urban and rural” roads, while also handling things like stop signs and traffic signals that the older Super Cruise system can’t deal with.

It’s being described as a Level 2 autonomous driving aid, which is about what Tesla’s Full-Self Driving system is at currently. GM’s system uses a LiDAR sensor to supplement the camera-based system, which doesn’t feature on Tesla vehicles as they decided it wasn’t necessary.

We’ll see which system handles American roads (and American drivers!) better when GM’s system debuts next year.

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