When GM introduces its new hands-free Ultra Cruise driver assistance system in 2023 – starting with the Cadillac – it will be powered by Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon chip system. The announcement, made at CES 2022, illustrates Qualcomm’s success in gaining more market share in the automotive sector, specifically in ADAS.
The on-chip system, called the Snapdragon Ride Platform, was developed for advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) and automated steering. It is one of a set of cloud-connected platforms introduced by Qualcomm that automakers can adopt in their entirety or à la carte.
GM’s Ultra Cruise system is expected to be a more capable iteration of its Super Cruise ADAS which was first introduced in 2017.
The automaker says the Ultra Cruise will be able to handle 95% of all driving scenarios and eventually be used on all paved roads in the US and Canada. This is a difficult task; and to achieve that, GM is using a trio of sensors – cameras, radar and handle, which will be launched on the luxury electric Cadillac Celestiq – combined with its own Qualcomm software and processor.
To go a little deeper, Ultra Cruise computing, which is about the size of two stacked laptops, is comprised of two Snapdragon SA8540P SoCs and an SA9000P IA accelerator to provide low-latency control functions on 16-core CPUs and AI Computing of over 300 Tera operations per second for camera, radar and coping processing.
Snapdragon SoCs are designed with 5 nm process technology. The compute unit also includes an Infineon Aurix TC397 processor for system security integrity. The Aurix TC397 is rated ASIL-D, which is considered the highest level of automotive safety integrity.
All of this translates into a computer system that will have the processing power of several hundred personal computers, according to Ken Morris, GM vice president of electric, autonomous and fuel cell vehicle programs, who said it will take the launch of the company’s advanced driver assistance system. in 2017 “to the next level with hands-free door-to-door driving”.
Nakul Duggal, senior vice president and GM automotive, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. senior vice president and GM, Automotive, said the Snapdragon Ride-equipped Ultra Cruise system in Cadillac vehicles “will be an experimental and technological leap for the industry.”
Super Cruise x Ultra Cruise
The Super Cruise uses a combination of handling map data, high-precision GPS, cameras and radar sensors, as well as a driver attention system, which monitors the person behind the wheel to make sure they’re paying attention. Super Cruise users do not need to have their hands on the wheel. However, your eyes should remain straight ahead.
Ultra Cruise may be more robust and will be available on more roads, but it will still require the driver to pay attention at all times. This means that it is not a “fully autonomous” Tier 4 system, a level of functionality that means the vehicle can handle all driving without the need for a human, under certain conditions. Tier 4 systems are what companies like the GM Cruise subsidiary are working to market through a robotaxi application.
Ultra Cruise is designed to take advantage of the capabilities of your Super Cruise system. Ultra Cruise also works through a combination of cameras, radar, and handle (not just map data to cope), developing accurate 360-degree three-dimensional statistical representations of the environment around vehicles with redundancies in critical areas. The company is relying more on its sensors than its mapping.
Together this means the system will be able to react to traffic lights, follow navigation routes, maintain and follow speed limits, support automatic and on-demand lane changes, make left and right turns, avoid objects and park on residential sidewalks .