General Motors says 2023 car will allow mostly hands-free driving

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General Motors plans to launch in 2023 a premium model that would enable hands-free operation in 95 percent of driving scenarios, the US auto giant announced Wednesday.

The technology, called "Ultra Cruise," is a centrepiece of a newly unveiled plan that the Detroit company says will enable it to double annual revenues by 2030.

"The vehicle has become a software platform," Chief Executive Mary Barra said at a briefing with reporters ahead of a two-day investor presentation.

Executives said the program would be available on premium vehicles for the 2023 season, which will be introduced in late 2022. They declined to say which vehicle or vehicles would have the function.

Barra said Ultra Cruise would operate effectively in "most" urban and rural scenarios, except for cases such as "very complex" intersections.

"Customers will be able to travel truly hands free with Ultra Cruise across nearly every road including city streets and subdivision streets and paved rural roads in addition to highways," GM said in a statement.

The program has 360-degree perception around the vehicle and employs cameras, radars and sensors to enable a vehicle to follow speed limits, automatically change lanes and avoid close objects.

GM announced the technology in tandem with a series of presentation on its strategy for building up its slate of electric vehicles and developing new businesses through its autonomous and digital investments.

"There are so many growth opportunities we have" said Barra, who also discussed "disrupting" the car insurance business and building up GM Defense, which sells vehicles to government agencies.

The presentation comes on the heels of several earlier announcements by GM of new electric vehicle models and investments.

Shares fell 0.4 percent to $54.15 in midday trading. GM shares have risen more than 75 percent over the last year.

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