2023 Best New Safety Innovation: GM’s Ultra Cruise with Trailering

GM’s Super Cruise hands-free driving assistant won the award for Best New Safety Innovation in last year’s AutoTrader Awards, but with updates to the system being introduced this year to be compatible with trailers and expand its highway operation to include city streets, the newly named Ultra Cruise has earned a repeat win for 2023.

Remember, this is a market that’s constantly surprising consumers with new safety tech, making the repeat win even more impressive. As the name suggests, this feature is like cruise control imbued with super powers. Ultra Cruise with Trailering builds on the benefits of Super Cruise, providing a nearly door-to-door hands-free driving experience. At launch, Super Cruise covered more than 3.2 million kilometres of public highways across Canada and the U.S., and 95 per cent of driving scenarios. Before long, it’s expected to work on all paved roads in North America.

This tech is connected to the wider grid, constantly communicating back and forth with OnStar, using real-time data regarding positioning with sensors, cameras, and lidar map information to read, anticipate, and react to any road conditions.

Considered “driver assistance,” this tech can perform wonders, including supporting lane changes, right and left-hand turns, avoiding nearby objects, maintaining headway, and obeying speed limits. Under certain conditions, it will decide to automatically change lanes. It also supports parking in your typical driveway. All with no hands, though the driver still needs to attentive and alert in case the driver needs to take over control. To ensure they can, the computer is constantly observing the driver’s eyes, head, and face to ensure they’re looking at the road ahead and not asleep or scrolling on their phone.

While using the feature, if you stop paying attention to the road, the computer alerts you. You get three gradually more panicky warnings. If you don’t take immediate control of the steering wheel, the tech will slow to a complete halt, warn other drivers, and OnStar will check to see if the driver has been incapacitated and call for help.

Super/Ultra Cruise adds a new level of convenience now that it’s added trailering. Ultra Cruise updates drivers with information on-screen based on their use of it. It also reads and reacts to updates from traffic control devices, adjusting internal maps. If you are pulling a trailer, you can no longer use the automatic lane change or lane change on-demand features, but anything that makes driving safer while hauling a trailer in traffic is a boon.

For continuing to innovate in the field of driver safety, assistance, convenience, GM has raised the bar on what’s capable and has truly earned Super/Ultra Cruise’s win for Best New Safety Innovation in the 2023 AutoTrader Awards.