GM has revealed that Ultra Cruise, its forthcoming ADAS designed to enable hands-free driving, will have a consistent 360-degree view of the vehicle and be offered on the Cadillac Celestiq – an all-electric sedan scheduled to launch in early 2024.

The vehicle’s surroundings will be perceived by the system’s suite of sensors, which includes a LiDAR, long- and short-range radars, a new computing system, and a driver attention system. Coming together in a process GM refers to as sensor fusion, the driver-assistance system’s 20 sensors will work together to develop a 3D, 360-degree, representation of the vehicle’s environment.

In addition to these new details, GM also outlined its future plans for Ultra Cruise. Following its initial launch, the ADAS will be able to accept and benefit from OTA updates that enhance its capabilities over time. As it becomes more readily available, GM is aiming for Ultra Cruise to offer hands-free driving on the majority of paved roads across North America – including city streets, subdivision streets, rural roads, and highways. Today, GM is deep in the development of Ultra Cruise’s software, which is being produced in-house. However, the company is also working with partner suppliers who are integrating their own sensing technologies and software into Ultra Cruise to aid its development.

Powering Ultra Cruise’s SAE L2 operations is a sensor suite consisting of many software and hardware ADAS technologies. In its update, GM detailed the role each of these technologies will play in the system’s operations. A new driver attention system will, for example, work similarly to a conventional DMS – operating through a small camera on the steering column and leveraging an infrared light. While Ultra Cruise is activated, the system monitors the driver’s head position and eyes in relation to the road ahead, ensuring they remain attentive and ready to take over the driving task if necessary. The system’s key functions will be enabled and powered by a dedicated compute platform, which GM confirmed will leverage SoCs developed by Qualcomm Technologies. On the front, corners, back, and sides of the vehicle, seven eight-megapixel cameras will help Ultra Cruise detect objects surrounding the vehicle – such as traffic signs, traffic lights, other road users, and pedestrians.

A series of short-range radars placed on each corner of the vehicle will sense moving objects, such as a pedestrian crossing the street or vehicles in surrounding lanes, in a radius of up to 90 meters around the vehicle. These radars will be accompanied by three 4D long-range radar sensors positioned on the front and back of the vehicle, which will support Ultra Cruise’s Adaptive Cruise Control speeds and lane change maneuvers at highway speeds. In both cases, these speeds will be determined by the radars based on an object’s location, direction, and elevation related to the speed of the vehicle itself.

Located behind the windshield, a LiDAR sensor helps Ultra Cruise produce an accurate, 3D, view of the scene surrounding the vehicle – allowing for objects and road features to be detected more precisely, even during inclement weather conditions. In conjunction with the system’s other sensors, the LiDAR’s precise perception of the vehicle’s environment works to increase Ultra Cruise’s functional domain and performance.

When it launches, GM expects that Ultra Cruise will cover more than two million miles (3.2 million kilometers) of roads in the U.S. and Canada – with plans to expand its reach to 3.4 million miles (5.4 million kilometers) as it rolls out on more models and in new regions.