In-Car Tech

GM taps Mapbox for new in-vehicle navigation solution called Maps+

The new Maps+ app will allow drivers to use a navigation system who had not previously purchased navigation.

Photo courtesy of General Motors

General Motors is giving its vehicles a new navigation solution. Maps+, an in-vehicle, app-based way-finding program, will begin rolling out to approximately 900,000 model year 2018 and newer Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac vehicles by the end of 2021, starting on April 30.

"We know customers want an easy and convenient in-vehicle experience that improves over time," said Santiago Chamorro, GM vice president of Global Connected Services. "We listened to customer feedback and developed a product that works seamlessly with our current infotainment systems and provides a highly personalized experience that will iterate throughout the lifetime of the vehicle."

Maps+ was developed in partnership with Mapbox. The new app replaces navigation functionality in already-purchased vehicles that had purchased a navigation system. It provides navigation functionality to drivers of vehicles that did not opt for navigation at the onset.

The new application features Alexa build-in voice control that allows users to listen to music or podcasts using the system's integrated audio apps. A search box allows users to find points of interest, shops, restaurants, parking, and more. There is also embedded speed alert, low fuel recognition, predictive keyboard entry, day and night modes, category shortcuts, rear-time traffic routing, and dynamic mapping capability.

"Our obsession is the driver," said Peter Sirota, CEO of Mapbox. "The map is the canvas for providing the driver with a delightful, easy-to-use experience. From discovering new places to avoiding traffic on your commute to paying at the pump or the plug, Maps+ lays the foundation for an excellent navigation experience. We are excited to build upon this with GM to continue to drive adoption."

GM and Mapbox are committed to continuing Maps+ post-launch, developing new features and improvements based on feedback and metrics.

Maps+ will be available on select vehicles through Connected Vehicle, Premium and App Access subscription plans. Current eligible Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac owners will be notified when their vehicle is eligible for Maps+.

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Owners of 2020 and 2021 model year Infiniti vehicles will be eligible.

Infiniti

Apple CarPlay is a great feature that can add maps, streaming audio, and voice controls to even base model vehicles that would otherwise lack such technology. It also offers a standardized interface that works similarly to a smartphone's built-in software, so there's no confusion about how to operate the system. Until recently, users had to have their phones physically tethered to the vehicle with a wired connection, but many automakers have begun offering wireless connectivity. Infiniti is one of them, but in an unusual step, the company says that it will upgrade older model year vehicles with the technology at no cost.

Infiniti Wireless Apple CarPlay The upgrades will be free for owners.Infiniti

This means that if you own a 2020 or 2021 Q50, Q60, QX50, or QX80, you are eligible for the upgrade. Wireless Apple CarPlay became available for Infiniti vehicles starting with the 2022 model year, so it's a new feature for the automaker. The first model to support the feature was the 2022 QX55 and the new 2022 QX80 will offer the tech with its 12.3-inch touchscreen system. The 2022 Q50 and Q60 will both leave the factory with the feature, as will the upcoming QX60.

It's unclear how or if the upgrade will affect other vehicle systems, but it's a worthy move for anyone who owns a 2020 or 2021 Infiniti vehicle, if only to boost resale value down the road. Cars such as the 2021 Q50 came standard with a dual-screen infotainment system and wired Apple CarPlay, so the ability to go wireless would be a big bonus for some drivers.

Infiniti Wireless Apple CarPlay Owners have until March 31, 2022 to complete the upgrade.Infiniti

If you own a 2020 or 2021 Infiniti model, you have until March 31, 2022, to complete the upgrade. Infiniti says its dealers will perform the update at no cost to owners, so make your appointments now. The automaker has not announced plans to offer wireless Android Auto.

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Cadillac will be the first brand with Ultra Cruise

General Motors

Tesla has been in hot water for a while now for shenanigans pulled by owners abusing the automaker's advanced cruise control functions. While the company's Full Self Driving (FSD) tech isn't quite ready for primetime, other automakers are catching up – quickly. Today, General Motors announced Ultra Cruise, its advanced driver assistance tech that promises to allow hands-free driving in 95 percent of driving scenarios.

Ultra Cruise Ultra Cruise will build on Super Cruise functionality.General Motors

GM notes that its goal is to eventually roll the service out to all paved roads in the U.S. and Canada. When it launches, the service will work on over two million miles of roads, which could nearly double as the program expands.

Ultra Cruise will offer a host of automated driving features that build on Super Cruise:

  • Dynamic display system
  • Ability to react to permanent traffic control devices
  • Follow internal navigation routes
  • Maintain headway and follow speed limits
  • Support automatic, on-demand lane changes
  • Support left and right turns
  • Support close object avoidance
  • Support parking in residential driveways

The system uses LiDAR, radar, and cameras to build a 360-degree, three-dimensional picture of the world around it. An additional LiDAR unit is located behind the windshield. GM notes that a big part of the system is its Human Machine Interface (HMI), which communicates with the driver to alert them when they need to take control. Ultra Cruise-equipped vehicles will do this with a head-up display that helps drivers stay focused on the road, and will use the same driver monitoring cameras that are used in Super Cruise.

Ultra Cruise Ultra Cruise will enable hands-free driving in the majority of driving scenarios.General Motors

Ultra Cruise will first be available in Cadillac vehicles starting from 2023. There's no word on pricing or specific vehicle availability at this time.

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