General Motors' Super Cruise is one of the most advanced autonomous driver-assist features found on a production vehicle, but the automaker may be almost ready to announce the next stage in capability.
Enthusiast website Muscle Cars and Trucks has discovered a trademark filing for “Hyper Cruise” made by GM with the United States Patent and Trademark Office on January 13 (the same day incidentally that Ford renewed its own trademark for the “Thunderbird” name).
In the filing description, GM said Hyper Cruise refers to an “electronic speed and steering control system for facilitating the autonomous driving of a motor land vehicle, sold as an integral part thereof.”
When contacted, a GM spokeswoman told Motor Authority the automaker doesn't “have anything specific to share today, but stay tuned.”
Last spring, GM's head of global product development and purchasing, Doug Parks, said the automaker was working on a version of Super Cruise that would function in “neighborhoods, city streets and subdivisions,” which he referred to as “Ultra Cruise” and said would still need the driver to monitor it, just like with Super Cruise, thus ranking it at Level 2 on the SAE scale of self-driving capability. Level 3 is the first stage where no driver monitoring is required and Level 5 is the ultimate goal, i.e. a system that can function at the same level as a human.
Interestingly, GM filed a trademark for Ultra Cruise in 2018, though in this case GM said in the description that Ultra Cruise was “for the semi-autonomous driving of motor vehicles,” the key word here being "semi." This word doesn't feature in the description for Hyper Cruise, which suggests GM may be preparing a new driver-assist feature more capable than both the Super Cruise and Ultra Cruise systems, one capable of operating without the need for monitoring by the driver. Such capability has already been demonstrated by the Cruise self-driving technology startup that GM backs.
Super Cruise is currently limited to some Cadillac models but GM plans to expand it to the rest of its brands, starting this summer with the yet-to-be-revealed Chevrolet Bolt EUV. The feature combines several driver-assist features including adaptive cruise control and lane keep assist with pre-defined map and GPS data to accurately place a vehicle in its lane. GM last fall confirmed that Super Cruise will be offered as a monthly subscription.