Laying the Groundwork for an Informed Driving Experience

There is literally no limit to what a human being can do, but at the same time, we cannot anything better than pursuing growth on a consistent basis. This tendency to become better, no matter the situation, has fetched us some huge milestones, with technology emerging as quite a major member of the stated group. The reason why we hold technology in such a high regard is, by and large, predicated upon its skill-set, which realized all the possibilities for us that we couldn’t have imagined otherwise. Nevertheless, if we take a deeper look, it will reveal how the whole runner was also very much inspired from the way we applied those skills across a real world environment. The latter component actually did a lot to give the creation a spectrum-wide presence and start what was a full-blown tech revolution. Of course, this revolution then went on to scale up the human experience through some outright unique avenues, but even after achieving a feat so notable, technology will somehow continue to bring out the right goods. The same has only turned more evident in recent times, and assuming a new automotive development pans out just like we envision, it should be able to propel that trend towards bigger heights over the near future and beyond.

General Motors has officially confirmed that its next-generation Ultra Cruise driver-assist system will feature lidar and an assortment of high-tech sensors, which are all designed to enable hands-free driving and cover “95 percent” of driving maneuvers. According to certain reports, the stated assortment of sensors will likely include cameras, short- and long-range radar, a lidar sensor, and a lot more. Now, to make sense of the data collected from these sensors, the vehicles will also have a brand new computer in place, with Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon Ride Platform already locked in as the preferred technology to run that system. Moving on to the lidar, it will be located inside the vehicle, more specifically behind the windshield and under the rearview mirror. While the lidar has a significant role to play, a bigger mention must remain reserved for the placement of cameras.

Starting from the one which gauges driver’s attention, this camera will be located on top of the steering column, and there, it will use an infrared light to help monitor the driver’s head position and/or eyes in relation to the road, thus ensuring a safer driving experience. Next up, we have short range radars that are placed on the four corners of the vehicle. They are responsible for sensing a radius of up to 90 meters so to inform you about any pedestrians crossing the street or vehicles in the surrounding lane. To cater a wider radius, the vehicles will be given three different 4D long range radars. Placed at the front and back, these will allow Adaptive Cruise Control speeds as well as lane change maneuvers, and they’ll do so by detecting an object’s location, direction, and elevation relative to the speed of the vehicle. The stated long range radars will even have the capabilities to determine safe stopping distances. Anyway, with a view of complementing them, General Motors has also provided a total of seven long range cameras. Here, the location is the front, corners, back, and sides of the vehicle, whereas the purpose is to track objects such as traffic signs, traffic lights, other vehicles, and pedestrians.

“This will give us a 360-degree view around the vehicle to enable us to expand this hands free driving capability to these larger domains,” said Jason Ditman, chief engineer at General Motors.

Although the technology is a major upgrade over GM’s Super Cruise system which only allows for hands-free driving on mapped divided highways, there are still some question marks surrounding its future. For instance, GM has confirmed that its Cadillac Celestiq will be the first vehicle to feature Ultra Cruise, but the model isn’t even expected to go into production before 2024. Another visible limitation is how, despite its prowess, GM considers the setup as nothing more than a Level 2 driving system. In case you are not aware, a Level 2 system can control both steering and acceleration and deceleration, monitor blind spots, and even change lanes automatically, but it demands for the driver to keep their eyes on the road at all times. However, going by Ditman’s word, GM remains confident about the technology’s prospects.

“A deep knowledge of what Ultra Cruise is capable of, along with the detailed picture provided by its sensors, will help us understand when Ultra Cruise can be engaged and when to hand control back to the driver. We believe consistent, clear operation can help build drivers’ confidence in Ultra Cruise.”


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