GM is doubling the size of its Super Cruise network in the US and Canada

Take a hands-free trip through Route 66.

MANDEL NGAN via Getty Images

Since introducing its Super Cruise advanced driver assistance suite in the Cadillac CT6 back in 2017, General Motors has worked steadily to expand the number of lidar-mapped roads that the system can handle hands-free. The SuperCruise Network first expanded from 130,000 to 200,000 miles of divided highways in 2019, and will soon double in size — to 400,000 miles across the US and Canada — by the end of the year, GM announced on Wednesday.

The Super Cruise system — and its successor, Ultra Cruise — relies on a mix of high-fidelity LiDAR maps, GPS, and onboard visual and radar sensors to know where the vehicle is on the road. So far, those maps, which dictate where features like Hands-Free Driving can operate, have only included major, divided highways like interstates with the big median barriers. Smaller, undivided public highways — aka State Routes — were not included, in part because of the added ADAS challenges presented by oncoming traffic, until now.

"This expansion will enable Super Cruise to work on some additional divided highways, but the big news is this the bulk of the expansion will allow Super Cruise to operate on non-divided highways," David Craig, GM's Chief of Maps, said during Tuesday's call. "These non-divided highways are typically the state and federal highways... that connect the smaller cities and townships across the US and Canada."

it's a lot.

These will include Route 66, the Pacific Coast Highway (aka CA Route 1), the Overseas Highway (aka US Route 1) and the Trans-Canada Highway. "if you look at I-35 which is the interstate that runs North and South up the middle of the United States, and look to the West, you will see that the Super Cruise coverage currently is just the major interstates, which is fairly sparse," Craig continued. "But in the expansion, you can see that it's just a spiderweb of roads covering the entire area. All the little townships are going to be connected now."

it's a lot.

GM executives explained on a press call Tuesday that every new Super Cruise-enabled GM vehicle that rolls off the assembly line will be equipped with the full 400,000-mile capabilities, as will 2021 and 2022 GM vehicles outfitted with the VIP (Vehicle Intelligence Platform) architecture, such as the Escalade and CT5, via OTA update later in 2022. Vehicles with Super Cruise but without VIP which cannot eventually upgrade to Ultra Cruise, such as the early model CT6s, will receive a smaller update.

There will be no impact on the annual Super Cruise subscription cost, but you will have to have the Super Cruise hardware already installed. GM execs on the call noted that folks who bought SC-capable vehicles during the chip shortage that didn't actually have the SC hardware installed cannot go back and get the system retrofitted in after the fact to take advantage of this update. In all, GM hopes to offer nearly two dozen Super Cruise-enabled vehicle models by the 2023 model year