Our Journey to
The vehicles of the future will not only be electric—they will be autonomous and equipped with a range of advanced technologies.
For the Road Ahead:
- GM is the right company to deliver the benefits of autonomous vehicles, bringing expertise in automotive design, safety testing and proven quality methods refined over more than a century to Cruise, the self-driving company majority-owned by GM.
- In January 2020, Cruise unveiled the Cruise Origin, a shared, electric, self-driving vehicle that will operate in a fleet and will have a useful life of more than 1 million miles.
- From partnerships and pilot programs with cities to insights from our own experiences, GM continues to explore solutions that can lead to a zero-congestion future.
- As technology plays an ever more important role in GM vehicles, we are taking care to ensure appropriate security with a Product Cybersecurity organization and Board-level Cybersecurity Committee.
- Working toward harmonized regulation to address the advent of commercial autonomous technologies
- Ensuring adequate capital to continue the development and commercialization of autonomous technologies
- Building trust and understanding among consumers in autonomous technology and its benefits
- Developing profitable shared mobility service models
- Addressing associated cybersecurity risks as increased and more complex vehicle software is deployed
GM envisions a future where we can enjoy the benefits of vehicle use — freedom, convenience and comfort — while minimizing risks such as crashes, emissions and congestion.
We are working on the technologies that will make this future possible, blending global insights with local market expertise as the automotive industry transforms from a traditional manufacturer of goods to a provider of services that delivers new ways of thinking about transportation.
Over the past decade, GM has built a strong leadership position in vehicle electrification and connectivity. And in the past four years, we have been rapidly building a similar position in autonomous and shared vehicles, as we continue exploring and developing our shared mobility and autonomous ride-sharing platforms with Cruise.
The most significant change affecting modern mobility is the rise of autonomous vehicles (AVs). Autonomous driving is on the brink of disrupting the automotive industry, and GM is helping chart the course of that transformation. AVs could help bring enormous societal benefits, the most visible of which may be dramatic increases in road safety. Consider that almost 1.25 million people are killed in road crashes every year — more than 3,000 per day. Human error is to blame for most of these injuries and deaths. By taking human fatigue, distraction and impairment out of the equation, we can help save the lives of tens of thousands of drivers, passengers, cyclists and pedestrians.
AVs will save another precious commodity: time. According to the Texas A&M Transportation Institute, total delay and costs associated with congestion across the United States have grown in recent decades. Studies focused on specific states or regions identify similar trends. For example, in Massachusetts, automobile commute times increased about 10 percent between 2008 and 2017. In California, state data show that the number of hours vehicles spent traveling below 35 miles per hour on state highways more than doubled over the same time period. As a result, the average American now spends 54 hours per year stuck in traffic. And globally, we estimate that the economy loses roughly $1 trillion per year in lost productivity due to people and goods being stuck in traffic.
Understanding the causes of congestion points the way to potential solutions. According to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), traffic incidents — including vehicle crashes — cause about a quarter of all congestion in the United States. Recurring peaks in demand —most notably, daily commute periods — account for about half. Moreover, as a function of traffic volumes, congestion grows nonlinearly. This tells us that improvements in vehicle safety and strategies for smoothing travel demand peaks, even just at the margins, can help meaningfully reduce congestion and its costs to society. AVs will be part of the answer, potentially reducing the crashes that can bring traffic to a standstill and making better use of available roadway capacity through technologies like platooning.
For GM, the move toward driver assistance technology on a commercial scale has begun with Super Cruise, the world’s first true hands-free driver assistance technology for compatible highways, which is available to Cadillac CT6 drivers on more than 200,000 miles of highways in the United States and Canada. The system allows drivers to remove their hands from the steering wheel, provided the driver maintains attention on the road ahead. LiDAR map data, GPS and a network of camera and radar sensors help keep the vehicle in its lane.
In 2020, we announced an enhanced version of Super Cruise that will be introduced on the 2021 Cadillac CT5, CT4 and Escalade. Among the enhancements will be lane change on demand functionality, which will allow the system to change lanes when requested by the driver and certain conditions are met. As with the original version of Super Cruise, drivers must pay attention to the road at all times. The system provides information such as “looking for an opening” or “changing lanes” to keep the driver informed on the status of a lane change. It will also let drivers know when a lane change on demand is unavailable. Other Super Cruise enhancements include updates designed to improve performance and ease-of-use. Updates include:
- Addition of richer map information to enable lane change on demand and improved functionality through turns and highway interchanges.
- Improved software for better steering and speed control.
- Enhancements to make it easier and more intuitive for drivers to engage the system.
Cadillac CT6 customers are already enjoying the benefits of hands-free operation, driving more than 70,000 miles per week using Super Cruise. Of current CT6 owners, over 85 percent said they would prefer or only consider a vehicle equipped with the system. GM is answering the call: Super Cruise will be available on 22 vehicles by the end of 2023, including full-size pickups and SUVs. We’re confident that as we make Super Cruise even more intuitive and accessible for customers, drivers will embrace the benefits of ever-more-advanced technologies.
The enhancements to Super Cruise are made possible by GM’s new Vehicle Intelligence Platform (VIP), which provides more electrical bandwidth and data processing power than ever before. We also have made upgrades to the vehicle’s software and hardware, incorporating enhanced rear-facing sensors and richer map data to allow vehicles to perform these more advanced maneuvers with the same high levels of safety.
Our Cruise Journey
GM is the right company to deliver the benefits of AVs. Unlike other companies that are retrofitting conventional vehicles with autonomous technology, or designing their own vehicles for the first time, GM brings expertise in automotive design, safety testing and proven quality methods refined over more than a century. Cruise, the self-driving company majority-owned by GM, is the only company with access to the capital and engineering talent necessary to bring AVs quickly to scale. We were the first automaker to use mass-production auto assembly line methods for autonomous vehicles, and we remain the only company with this capacity. Today, GM and Cruise are making rapid progress to build AVs that are affordable, offer a great user experience, operate with zero emissions and, most importantly, are safe to ride in.
On the road to full autonomy, GM is also taking steps to realize the benefits of automation today by equipping our vehicle portfolio with increasingly capable driver-assist technologies. In a study of more than 3.7 million GM vehicles across 20 different models, the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI) examined the effectiveness of 15 advanced driver assistance features, including forward automatic braking and lane-keep assist. These features reduced rear-end-striking crashes and lane-departure crashes by 46 and 20 percent, respectively. Traffic incidents are a key contributor to congestion, so crashes reduced means traffic jams avoided. This is a real-world benefit that our highway network is already beginning to experience as GM takes steps toward a fully autonomous future, starting with our conventional vehicles.
Leveraging more than 100 years of automotive experience, GM has used integrated hardware and software development and testing in one of the most complex environments in the world to manufacture self-driving vehicles. We do this with the same high-quality standards that we hold for the millions of other vehicles we build for our customers around the world each year.
Developing AV Safety Standards
In 2018, GM published our first Self-Driving Safety Report, describing how safety is integrated into the development, testing and deployment of the Cruise AV. Our AVs are built at our assembly plant in Orion Township, Michigan, which assembles thousands of vehicles per year. The AVs undergo the same rigorous safety and durability testing as other GM production vehicles. Vehicle development fully addresses all 12 safety elements in the NHTSA’s voluntary guidance, Automated Driving Systems 2.0 — A Vision for Safety.
We also have joined Ford, Toyota and SAE International in forming the Automated Vehicle Safety Consortium (AVSC), which will help advance testing and safety standards for self-driving vehicles. GM and our OEM peers have generations of experience developing and deploying safe vehicles and have a joint interest in ensuring that AVs and associated regulations are established with safety and reliability in mind.
Testing in Complex Environments
Cruise does almost all vehicle testing in downtown San Francisco, a highly complex environment. Test vehicles are regularly confronted with situations such as unprotected left turns, construction zones, cyclists and pedestrians, enabling these vehicles to learn more per mile of driving than if testing in a suburban environment.
Despite the complex environments to which Cruise submits their self-driving vehicles daily — and the exponential improvements we have made — progressing to a vehicle that can reliably drive safely remains one of the greatest engineering challenges of our time. Cruise continues to grow their team of engineering talent and increase the rate at which they can make progress. These engineers are creating machine learning-driven simulations that allow the AV software to “drive” in an infinite number of simulated environments, gaining experience more quickly than they could on the roads.
Every Cruise autonomous test vehicle is also an electric vehicle that employs a design based on the Chevrolet Bolt EV. Introducing these technologies in tandem accomplishes multiple goals, including increasing acceptance of EVs and encouraging buildout of EV charging infrastructure. In addition, there are benefits to integrating AV technology into an EV — as opposed to a conventional or hybrid vehicle — from an engineering perspective.
Across the country at the state and federal levels, regulators and legislators are actively considering how to help foster and shape the evolution of AVs. GM is committed to a transparent and active partnership with policymakers in this process. In particular, we are focused on discussing our mobility offerings with city officials across the U.S. and around the world, given that urban settings are the environment in which many of our advanced technologies will provide the most robust applications and value.
Cruise Autonomous Vehicle Development
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Because vehicle crashes are responsible for only a portion of all congestion, GM also recognizes the potential contributions of policy-driven approaches to meeting this challenge. Many cities and states are already exploring these policies, finding that there could be a variety of ways to improve mobility for their residents.
For example, cities across the United States are supporting new mobility options and reinvesting in multimodal transportation networks to ease gridlock on streets and highways. Transit services, shared-mobility platforms, such as carsharing and ridehailing, and micromobility solutions like e-bikes can relieve streets and highways of vehicles and give people choices for travel that better fit their trip type and needs.
Ultimately, constructing high-capacity rail and bus services, building bike lanes and developing forward-looking regulatory structures that support shared and micromobility operators can be part of an all-of-the-above strategy that complements driving, eases the introduction of new technologies and services, and facilitates less congested travel across all modes. That is why GM has advocated for regulatory frameworks that support carsharing and e-bike ventures, and why GM sees value in investments in broader transit and transportation infrastructure.
Some cities are also beginning to explore policies that manage transportation demand, including congestion pricing — charging a flat or variable fee to vehicles that drive in a specific area or zone. Evidence from early-adopter cities around the world suggests that congestion pricing can be effective in reducing traffic volumes and delays and increasing average travel speeds. In 2019, New York City became the first U.S. city to pass a congestion pricing law, and this will be a valuable test case for the policy in North America. Other options, such as telecommuting incentives, are also being proposed in Massachusetts and elsewhere. As part of a comprehensive approach that includes new technologies, demand management through pricing and incentives — when strategically and thoughtfully implemented — could play a valuable role in mitigating congestion in urban areas.
GM has a well-established track record of engagement with innovative city and mobility initiatives, from the Smart Cities Challenge in Columbus, Ohio, to targeted carsharing partnerships in underserved neighborhoods in Detroit. As cities continue to explore ways to tackle congestion in their communities, GM looks forward to building on this foundation through partnerships and constructive dialogue with stakeholders, pilot projects and other efforts that seek to leverage public policy to realize our vision of a future in which people can enjoy the freedom, convenience and comfort of vehicle use in cities free of congestion.
This sets the stage for deploying connected vehicle technology to improve safety and relieve congestion by allowing vehicles to communicate with one another and the infrastructure. Equally important, this has provided us with an understanding and appreciation that offering a vehicle with the latest technology is only meaningful when it is seamlessly integrated, as well as consistent and relevant to our customers.
The freedom and opportunity that vehicles have provided over the past 100 years has come with often adverse effects in the form of injuries, emissions and congestion. Now, transformative innovations — autonomous vehicles, combined with electrification, sharing and connectivity — are changing the nature of transportation and our relationships to the vehicles that move us.
Connectivity is a foundational enabler of a future that includes on-demand car sharing and AVs. GM’s two decades of experience building our OnStar in-vehicle safety and security service, and our diagnostic, navigation and connectivity services, make us the most connected automaker on the planet. Today, we provide Connected Services and OnStar to 20 million members, with OnStar receiving an average of nearly 150,000 phone calls per day. We are balancing these advances in technology with attention to the potential risks they pose. For example, continued evolution of connected car technologies, the expansion of the vehicle ecosystem and advent of autonomous driving capabilities elevates cybersecurity concerns to another level of complexity and risk. In recognition of these developments and their potential impact on our business, GM has a cybersecurity governance structure at the highest levels of the company. Oversight responsibilities for cybersecurity programs and risks lie with the GM Board of Directors, which has a Cybersecurity Committee. At the operational level, cybersecurity management sits in a Global Cybersecurity organization that encompasses both product and corporate cybersecurity functions across all areas of the business.
Vehicles that incorporate next-generation battery-electric technology, as well as active safety, autonomous, infotainment and connectivity features, will require increased bandwidth and computing power. To meet these needs, GM has introduced an all-new electrical platform, or operating system, consisting of software and hardware that will enable all advanced in-vehicle technologies to run seamlessly and in conjunction with each other. The platform went into production in 2019 and should be rolled out to most vehicles within GM’s global lineup by 2023. Cybersecurity is a pillar of the new architecture, with added protective features at both the hardware and software levels. GM’s Product Cybersecurity organization, one of the first such groups among major automakers, provides the necessary expertise to protect against unauthorized access to vehicles and customer data.
We rely upon information technology systems and manufacture networked products, some of which are managed by third parties, to process, transmit and store electronic information, and to manage or support a variety of our business processes, activities and products. Additionally, GM collects and stores sensitive data, including personally identifiable information of our customers and employees, in data centers and on information technology networks. For these reasons, robust privacy policies and processes are critical to protecting our business and our stakeholders.
The Privacy Office has a privacy program framework that focuses on policies, procedures, tools, guidance and training. This framework also includes a Privacy-by-Design program that requires all data-dependent initiatives to receive a privacy-focused consultation through its life cycle. The privacy program and office reside with our legal staff, and additional non-legal resources are leveraged on a functional, regional and product/program basis to instill best practices across the enterprise. In certain cases, external reviewers have been engaged to ensure use of industry best practices.
Through our collaborative practice, we ensure that the collection, use and sharing of employee and customer personal information is reasonable, appropriate, safe and secure. Our greatest resource in protecting personal information is our employees. Privacy compliance is part of GM’s annual training, which emphasizes that the company has invested heavily in policies, procedures and systems to keep information private.
Our Information Security program is aligned to the National Institute of Standards and Technology Cyber Security Framework and ISO Standards and includes elements to protect the confidentiality, integrity and availability of information. We have a robust, global Information Lifecycle Management (ILM) Policy and record retention schedule which applies globally to all GM employees and other individuals or entities (e.g., contract worker, purchased services, etc.) that create or manage GM records. The ILM Policy requires that we properly retain only those records needed to meet business, fiscal and legal requirements.
GM requires an online Privacy Impact Assessment to be completed, reviewed and approved by a Privacy Office member prior to the implementation of any new product, service or process, or any change to the foregoing, involving the use of personal information. Additionally, Information Security Risk Management conducts a personal information risk score for systems containing personal information. Systems with high risk are required to have additional information technology controls.
GM publishes privacy statements publicly, such as on our corporate and OnStar websites. We utilize an opt-in approach where legally required or appropriate based on the nature of the data collected and its intended use. Customers have the ability to opt out. GM complies with all regulations, such as General Data Protection Regulation and the California Consumer Privacy Act. We honor requests under these regulations to access data, make corrections and delete. In addition, we do not allow the use of customer personal information for secondary usage if it is not disclosed in the Privacy Statement or otherwise consented to by the customer. In 2019, we did not have any material customer privacy complaints.