On January 13th 2021, the same day Ford Motor Company filed for the Thunderbird trademark, General Motors has applied for ‘Hyper Cruise’ with the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
The description reads: “electronic speed and steering control system for facilitating the autonomous driving of a motor land vehicle, sold as an integral part thereof.”
Hyper Cruise is this third name for an autonomous/semi autonomous driving system that General Motors has either so far announced, offered or is intending to offer. It first began with Super Cruise in the 2018 Cadillac CT6, which allowed for hands-free driving on divided highways that were previously mapped and geofenced. The technology is expected to finally make its way onto more crucial vehicles, such as GM’s entire T1 platform pickup truck and SUV lineup. This includes highly sought after vehicles such as the all-new Cadillac Escalade, as well as the high-volume Chevrolet Silverado 1500 and GMC Sierra 1500 pickup trucks. It’s even expected that customers will be able to tow with Super Cruise activated.
Ultra Cruise is expected to build on Super Cruise by allowing for semi-autonomous driving in more technical areas like city streets, neighborhoods, and subdivisions. That said, General Motors hasn’t exactly outlined when this evolution of Super Cruise would debut. But they revealed a flying chair last week during CES, so that’s something.
Hyper Cruise Could Be Next Level
As for what Hyper Cruise could be, General Motors specifically mentioned “autonomous driving” in the description of the USPTO trademark application. Super Cruise and Ultra Cruise specifically mention “semi-autonomous driving.”
This could imply that General Motors is preparing a Level 3 autonomous driving system, based on SAE J3016 standards ranging from Level 0 to Level 5. There currently aren’t any Level 3 vehicles fit for consumption, let alone Level 4 or Level 5. The latter of which is unconditional self driving, in all conditions, all of the time. Currently, ADAS technology like Super Cruise or Ford’s new Active Drive Assist fall under the Level 2 category. This means that these systems are capable of taking over steering, acceleration, and braking events within a set framework, but the driver must actively monitor the system and the road ahead in the event that they need to suddenly take over.
Level 3 is considered a major leap from Level 2, as it requires high levels of artificial intelligence, and Hyper Cruise could be one of the first systems to do it. The timeline for this rollout is unknown, but considering how much work General Motors has been putting into actively removing drivers from needing to operate a vehicle, chances are they will be one of the first to market.
The public at large are still not that confident in the technology, however.