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GM Super Cruise hands-free system expands to cover 400,000 miles

This green light means you can take your hands off the wheel. Just keep your eyes on the road!

Mc Hogan | CNBC

DETROIT – General Motors is expanding its Super Cruise hands-free driving system to the United States and Canada later this year, introducing the feature for non-interstate roads and highways such as Route 66 and the Pacific Coast Highway.

With the additional roads, the driver assistance system will be usable on more than 400,000 miles of US and Canadian roads, compared to approximately 200,000 miles of strictly divided highways.

“These are the main roads that connect small towns and townships across the United States and Canada,” GM mapping specialist David Craig said at a press briefing. “It extends The availability of Super Cruise for many millions more customers.”

Uses of Super Cruise a system of sensors and cameras to control the car’s steering, braking and acceleration functions without driver intervention. It also uses high definition maps; a light bar to communicate with the driver; and an on-board monitoring system to ensure drivers remain attentive during Super Cruise operation.

The feature, even with the update, 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 hand over control of the vehicle to drivers if they approach an intersection with a stop sign or traffic light.

Despite names like Super Cruise, or from Tesla Branded Autopilot and “Full Self-Driving”, these vehicles are not autonomous, nor safe to use without a driver behind the wheel.

GM said the new routes for Super Cruise will be available via over-the-air or remote updates, starting in the fourth quarter of this year for most of its eligible vehicles. GM won’t charge for the update, but the optional add-on currently starts at $2,200 or $2,500, depending on the vehicle.

GM is expanding its Super Cruise hands-free driving system in the U.S. and Canada later this year to 400,000 miles of roadways,

GM

GM has been slowly increasing the availability and capabilities of Super Cruise since its launch in 2017. It plans to offer Super Cruise on 23 models worldwide by the end of next year. Also announced is a new system called “Ultra-Cruise”, which GM says will be able to handle the ride in 95% of scenarios.

GM’s higher level can make the company more directly competitive with Elon Muskelectric vehicle manufacturer led by Tesla. Tesla’s driver assistance systems include the standard Autopilot and the premium option marketed as Full Self-Driving (or FSD), as well as FSD Beta which allows drivers to test functionality on public roads before they are generalized.

Driver assistance systems have seen an increase regulatory attentionespecially around accidents involving Tesla vehicles.

Mario Maiorana, GM’s chief engineer at Super Cruise, said the company is in regular communication with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration about rolling out the additional roads.

“We’re not going to release it until we fully test it,” Maiorana said, taking a slight swipe at Tesla, which offers products in development. “Beta” systems to some owners.

GM’s Super Cruise hasn’t received as much attention or scrutiny as Tesla’s systems, in part because of extra warranties and the company’s more conservative approach. GM has also only sold about 40,000 vehicles with Super Cruise, while Tesla offers some form of its systems on every vehicle it offers.

NHTSA announced in early July that it had opened more than 30 probes since 2016 on collisions involving Tesla vehicles where driver assistance systems like the autopilot were a suspected factor. The same report noted that the federal vehicle watchdog was investigating two non-fatal incidents potentially involving Super Cruise.

The Tesla crashes currently under investigation have resulted in the deaths of 16 vehicle occupants or pedestrians, according to the agency.

Automakers are required by law to report fatal and other serious collisions involving driver assistance systems to NHTSA.

–CNBC Lora Kolodny contributed to this report.

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