There’s a subtle, but important difference in how the three terms are described in the trademark applications.
General Motors introduced Super Cruise as a semi-autonomous driving system back in 2017 on the now-defunct CT6 sedan. The technology has since trickled down to the CT4 and CT5 models where it’s been upgraded to support lane changes. The new Escalade luxury SUV also has this sophisticated feature, which will be adopted by no fewer than 22 cars by 2023, including the upcoming Bolt EUV electric crossover.
Reports about a more advanced semi-autonomous system emerged in May 2020 when GM Executive Vice President of Product Development Doug Parks briefly mentioned Ultra Cruise. It’s said to offer true autonomous driving on certain highways and other types of roads, but we haven’t heard anything about the technology since then. GM actually trademarked “Ultra Cruise” in September 2018, and now a similar term has been registered with the United States Trademark and Patent Office – “Hyper Cruise.”
Filed with the USPTO on January 13, “Hyper Cruise” is described as being conceived for “autonomous driving” whereas the “Super Cruise” and “Ultra Cruise” terms are both characterized as serving for “semi-autonomous driving.” The subtle difference could hint the newly filed trademark refers to a more advanced system, possibly one that would meet level 3 requirements.
It’s too early to tell what Ultra Cruise and Hyper Cruise stand for, but these legal measures taken by GM suggest a more advanced self-driving system is in the works. Meanwhile, 2021MY vehicles and newer have Super Cruise working on more than 200,000 miles of highways in the United States and Canada without having to keep your hands on the steering wheel.
The latest model announced by GM to get Super Cruise is the 2022 GMC Sierra 1500 Denali. You won’t have to purchase the feature outright as Cadillac has rolled out a subscription plan for $25 a month or $300 a year. The rate goes down to $15 monthly provided customers are already subscribed to select OnStar and GM Connected Services.
USPTO via Muscle Cars and Trucks
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