Ushr's Lidar Mapping Helps Keep Cadillac Super Cruise Out Front And Hands-Free

FORBES |By:Doug Newcomb| While testing Cadillac Super Cruise last fall, I spent about 11 hours behind the wheel – but barely touched it the entire time. This is a distinct contrast to competing lane-centering systems I’ve tested, such as Mercedes-Benz Steering Assist and Volvo Pilot Assist II, since they don’t allow more than a minute or so of true hands-free driving.

They’re also not as comfortable to use as Super Cruise and don’t inspire the same sort of hands-off driving confidence. One of the primary reasons for this is they don’t have Super Cruise’s precision lidar-based mapping provided by the mapping startup Ushr.

In the same way that lidar sensors on self-driving vehicles detect objects by bouncing a 360-degree laser beam off them, Ushr mapped 130,000 miles of interstate highway in the U.S. and Canada using the technology. This means Super Cruise knows every curve, exit, lane merge, and more – and exactly what it will encounter on mapped roads.

“Our HD map information provides another layer of safety, precisely identifying the drivable and non-drivable areas of the roadway,” Brian Radloff, Ushr’s VP of business development and sales, told me.

All lane-centering systems use cameras to read lane markings, radar sensors to detect vehicles and other objects ahead and software to keep the car between the stripes and from crashing. But they all require that drivers keep their hands on the steering wheel or make small steering inputs. Otherwise they’ll turn off following a series of warnings.

While Super Cruise allows for miles of hands-free driving, it deactivates if the person behind the wheel takes their eyes off the road for a certain length of time or if a section of road hasn’t been mapped or has changed for some reason. During my 700-mile Super Cruise from Dallas to Santa Fe, the non-drivable sections of the road were few and far between – and I only had to place my hands on the wheel for an hour at most the entire time.

After my experience with Super Cruise, I’m not surprised that Ushr was chosen last week as one of GM’s Supplier of the Year recipients, making it the first and only startup to ever receive the award, according to Ushr. I’m also not surprised that other automakers are interested in adding Ushr’s HD mapping to their vehicles.

“In our talks with OEMs, engineers are telling us it would be a mistake not to include an HD map as precise as ours in their Level 2 and above autonomous systems,” Radloff said. If they want to catch up to Cadillac Super Cruise, that is.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/dougnewcomb/2018/04/27/ushrs-lidar-mapping-helps-keep-cadillac-super-cruise-out-front-and-hands-free/#51053f2442fb

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