General Motors has announced that the first vehicles able to use its expanded, 400,000-mile Super Cruise road network are four full-size SUV models, which will begin arriving in customer’s hands in the middle of this month.
The four are the Chevrolet Tahoe, in High Country and Premier trims; the Chevrolet Suburban, in High Country and Premier trims; the Cadillac Escalade, Escalade ESV, and Escalade-V; and the GMC Yukon Denali Ultimate. All are 2023 models.
The expansion applies to vehicles built on Oct. 3, 2022 or later, and ordered with the Super Cruise option.
GM said it will expand the network for existing Super Cruise vehicles built on GM’s VIP electrical architecture at no additional charge over the coming months, via over-the-air (OTA) software updates. “OTA software updates can provide more enhancements over time for eligible vehicles,” the company said.
Super Cruise will be available on 22 vehicles globally by the end of 2023, GM said.
“GM is committed to expanding access to advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), bringing these technologies to more vehicles on more roads, while prioritizing safe deployment,” the OEM said in a statement.
Super Cruise relies on its digitally-mapped road network, where the advanced driver assistance system (ADAS) technology can be used in what GM calls “hands-free” mode. The company announced that it would be doubling the size of the network to more than 400,000 in August 2022.
Since the introduction of the technology in 2017, GM vehicles have covered more than 34 million miles with Super Cruise engaged, the OEM and its partner Trimble Autonomy said earlier this month in a joint news release.
Super Cruise relies on highly detailed lidar map data, real-time cameras, radars, and GPS, which work together through “sensor fusion” to give the system a real-time view of the environment surrounding the vehicle.
The system accelerates or brakes the vehicle to maintain a selected following gap from a vehicle ahead and steers to maintain lane position while using a camera to monitor the driver’s head position and/or eyes to make certain that they’re paying attention. On certain vehicles, Super Cruise can perform both driver and system-initiated lane changes.
Like Tesla’s Autopilot with Full Self Driving, Ford’s Blue Cruise, and BMW’s Extended Traffic Jam Assistant, Super Cruise falls under the SAE’s Level 2 designation for systems that are able to handle steering, acceleration, and deceleration, but still require constant driver attention.
The expansion of GM’s network comes as some express concerns about drivers’ unrealistic beliefs in the capabilities of driver assistance systems.
In a study released in October, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) found that drivers who use partial automation frequently treat their vehicles as fully self-driving, confident that they can perform non-driving-related activities like eating or texting while behind the wheel.
In the study, 53% of Super Cruise users said that they were comfortable treating their vehicles as fully self-driving, as did 42% of Tesla Autopilot users, and 12% of Nissan/Infiniti ProPILOT Assist users, which IIHS called “worrying.”
The institute said it conducted the study, “Habits, attitudes, and expectations of regular users of partial driving automation systems,” to better understand how automation influences drivers’ perceptions of non-driving-related activities and the likelihood that they will engage in them.
While not the first study of the issue, “it does add important data that underscores the crucial role of safeguards like driver monitoring and attention reminders,” the study’s author, Alexandra Mueller, told Repairer Driven News.
While there are several legislative efforts under way to mandate driver monitoring technology in new vehicles, non-governmental organizations have also taken steps. IIHS announced in January that it is developing a new rating program to evaluate safeguards used to make certain that the drivers of semi-autonomous vehicles are paying attention to the road. Consumer Reports in February began awarding extra points for models that combine limited self-driving technologies with effective active driver monitoring systems.
GM, in its announcement, said it is “laser-focused on testing, validating and improving our ADAS technologies to provide our customers with advanced features and systems.”
With Super Cruise, drivers are monitored with infrared cameras to ensure that they continue to monitor the roadway while the system is active, as they may be asked to retake control at any time.
Featured image: Super Cruise in operation on a 2023 Chevrolet Tahoe. (Provided by Chevrolet)
A map of Super Cruise enabled roads after expansion. (Provided by GM)