The Next Chapter in Automotive Advancements

Kaitlin Keefer, Manager, CTC Communications, General Motors Canada and Let’s Talk Science
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Learn how new technologies are driving the cars of the future.

Innovation Lives Here

Imagine a time traveler has just visited us from the year 1920. Coming from a world of “horseless carriages” and silent movies, they would likely be amazed at the progress we’ve made in 100 years – artificial intelligence, satellites, a space station, flat-screen TVs, laptops and personal smartphones, to name a few.

At the same time, the typical automobile of today would be instantly recognizable to this century-old time traveler. Today’s automobile is not that different than the vehicle they would have seen in 1920 – four wheels, a steering wheel, some seating in the front and back.

However, there are moments in history when everything changes – they’re called ‘inflection points’ – and General Motors believes we’re living through that historical change right now. We believe we have the talent, the technology and the ambition to achieve the safer, better and more sustainable world we all want – a world that would be unrecognizable to our time traveler.

Enter: autonomous vehicles

Autonomous vehicles will eventually have no driver, no steering wheel and no pedals. They’ll be able to drive through busy city streets safely, and without distraction. Right now, GM is currently testing this autonomous vehicle technology in the streets of San Francisco. Here in Canada, Engineers at GM Canada’s Canadian Technical Centre (CTC) are helping to develop the code that will help drive and steer our self-driving vehicles safely through dense city traffic.

Then there’s GM’s Super Cruise™ technology – the first true hands-free driving assistance feature for divided and compatible highways. With an attentive driver, and under the proper conditions, Super Cruise™-equipped vehicles can permit hands-free operation of the vehicle!

GM’s Canadian engineers played an important role in developing this technology, which uses two important systems:

  • Infra-Red Facial recognition – this helps notify the driver when his/her eyes have been taken off the road, even though his/her hands are off the steering wheel, and;
  • Vehicle positioning – which uses real-time precise positioning, cameras, sensors and LiDAR map data to help detect every curve, helping to make long drives and commutes comfortable and more convenient.
GM’s Super Cruise technology is the first true hands-free driving assistance feature for divided and compatible highways
GM’s Super Cruise™ technology is the first true hands-free driving assistance feature for divided and compatible highways (Source: General Motors).

Advanced safety features, and particularly self-driving vehicles, don’t get tired, they don’t get drunk and drive, and they don’t text – all of which contributes to the human-error crashes we see on our roads today.

This important work will go even further with the official launch of GM’s Canadian Technical Centre McLaughlin Advanced Technology Track in spring 2021. Soon, engineers at the CTC Oshawa and Markham campus will be able to put their “code to the road” here in Canada – eliminating the need to cross the border to test their technology.

Construction on GM Canada’s New CTC McLaughlin Advanced Technology Track in Oshawa
Construction on GM Canada’s New CTC McLaughlin Advanced Technology Track in Oshawa (Source: Ann Power, GM Canada).

GM’s CTC has seen a major expansion of its engineering and software work in Canada since 2016, and has grown to become the largest automotive software engineering and development clusters for GM outside the U.S. Soon, CTC will add 100 new engineering roles primarily focused in the areas of advanced driver-assistance systems and infotainment.

Driving the future of mobility takes talent – and Canada has a lot of it. Homegrown talent is exactly why General Motors continues to recruit Canadian students to help advance our vision of a better world. Along the way, we’re committed to investing in students to help build our pipeline of science, technology, engineering and math talent.

So, now you know – this ‘inflection point’ is historic for our company and the automotive industry.

The future looks bright. Together, we’re driving to achieve a safer, better and more sustainable world for all – a future we can all look forward to and feel proud about. 

Let’s Talk Science appreciates the work and contributions of Kaitlin Keefer, Manager, CTC Communications, General Motors Canada in the development of this Backgrounder.

General Motors Canada logo
General Motors Canada logo

About General Motors Canada

General Motors of Canada is headquartered in Oshawa, Ontario and is part of a global company that is committed to delivering safer, better and more sustainable ways for people to get around. In Canada, General Motors markets ChevroletBuickGMC and Cadillac vehicles through our strong Canadian network of dealers, as well as OnStar services. More information can be found at www.gm.ca or by following @GMCanada on Twitter and Instagram.