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The Evolution of OnStar

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See how OnStar technology has advanced throughout the years. 

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See how OnStar technology has advanced throughout the years. 

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OnStar has grown over the past 25 years to better serve Members and help them feel safe, secure and more connected wherever life takes them

As we celebrate 25 years of impacting lives, it’s interesting to see how our first-in-the-industry technology has grown from responding to air bag deployments to developing the OnStar Guardian® app,*82 which provides key safety services to anyone with a compatible smartphone. It’s rewarding to see how our service has expanded from the United States to connecting vehicles in nations around the globe. Yet some things remain the same — namely, the calm, compassionate Advisors who are always ready to help, whether you have a safety concern or simply need directions. How did we arrive here? Let’s take a look.

The proof is in the patent As of 2022, there are 529 OnStar-issued patents in the U.S. — further proof that we are always looking for innovative ways to improve life on the road for drivers and passengers.

Feel even safer and more protected at home
General Motors and Amazon introduce the OnStar Guardian skill*117 for Amazon Alexa,*78 which provides access to OnStar Emergency-Certified Advisors*64 at home through compatible Alexa-enabled devices. Household members can say, “Alexa, call for help,” during crisis situations, such as a house fire, medical emergency, break-in and more.


Upgrading map capabilities
The Maps+*111 In-Vehicle App enhances the driving experience with a convenient and personalized navigation display on the vehicle’s infotainment screen. Owners can enjoy easy access to their favorite In-Vehicle Apps, stay informed with real-time traffic updates and ask for directions with Alexa Built-In*92 — all while using Maps+.


OnStar available anywhere you go
After piloting the feature in 2020, OnStar Members can get key OnStar safety services right from their smartphone with the OnStar Guardian app. You and up to seven family members or friends*84 can share your locations*85 and use other services like Mobile Crash Response, Roadside Assistance*86 or Emergency Services,*16a which gives access to Emergency-Certified Advisors 24/7.


Alerting 911 centers with safety notifications
OnStar and RapidDeploy, a public safety technology company working to accelerate Next Generation 911, launched a first-of-its-kind program to supply every 911 call center in California with OnStar Automatic Crash Response*16 notifications. These notifications are deployed without having to rely on a verbal relay of information and can provide the location, make and model of the vehicle, and any available crash details.


Amazon Alexa Built-In
The Amazon Alexa you know at home is now available in your vehicle with Alexa Built-In. Drivers can keep their hands on the wheel and use their voice to control compatible smart home devices*93 — lock your front door, turn on a porch light or alarm system, and make idling time more productive by managing your to-do lists. You can also make the commute more enjoyable by asking Alexa to play a specific song, artist, station or podcast.


Catching problems before they happen
OnStar launches Proactive Alerts*21 — technology that can predict potential issues with select key vehicle components and send Members real-time alerts via email and/or text. This enables drivers to deal with potential issues with their battery, fuel pump or starter motor before they become problems.


Helping drivers drive smarter
Smart driving is safer driving — it can help save money too. OnStar Smart Driver*23a monitors and scores driver behavior, noting things like hard braking, hard acceleration, etc. Participants can receive feedback and tips to improve driving skills, which can help them maximize their vehicle’s performance, and reduce wear and tear on the vehicle.


Connections by the billion
OnStar celebrated its one-billionth Member connection in July of 2015. Providing everything from an in-vehicle Wi-Fi® Hotspot*33 to automatic help in a crash, OnStar helps drivers travel with the confidence of knowing where they’re going, what’s around them and that they’re never far from help if they need it.


Always keeping a lookout
OnStar introduces Theft Alarm Notification,*19 part of a suite of Stolen Vehicle Assistance*18 services. The new feature can immediately alert you via phone, text or email if your car alarm sounds after you electronically lock your doors. With Theft Alarm Notification, you can stay informed and connected to your vehicle — even when you’re nowhere near it.


Vehicles get an available built-in Wi-Fi Hotspot
Most Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac models are equipped with an available built-in Wi-Fi Hotspot. This means Members have a hotspot that lets them connect up to seven mobile devices at once.


Vehicle location at your fingertips
Putting an end to parking lot pandemonium everywhere, Vehicle Locate*29 is added to the vehicle mobile app.*26 The app can pinpoint the Member’s vehicle on a map so they no longer have to wander through parking lots or up and down city blocks trying to remember where they parked.


Ahead of its time
OnStar 4G LTE named “Best of What’s New” in auto by Popular Science. This revolutionary new hardware helps drivers stay connected on the road like never before with an available built-in 4G LTE Wi-Fi Hotspot that can power up to seven devices with a highly reliable and faster connection.


Mobile connectivity
OnStar creates its first mobile app (now integrated into the vehicle mobile apps), which lets Members use their smartphones to remotely control their vehicles from great distances, locking or unlocking the door, starting the vehicle*28 (if properly equipped) or even sending destinations*20 to their vehicle from virtually anywhere.


We’ll get you there
From the computer to the car, OnStar becomes one of the first companies to sync the web with your vehicle’s navigation system. Members type in their destination, plan their routes and then send the directions right to their vehicles, getting them the fastest route possible.


No slowing down forward thinking
OnStar Stolen Vehicle Assistance receives a new feature with Stolen Vehicle Slowdown,®*18 which uses satellites located more than 12,000 miles above the earth, along with vehicle sensors, to determine a stolen vehicle’s location. When conditions are safe, an Advisor can send a signal to slow the vehicle down — helping authorities get it back quicker and safer.


Up in the clouds
Connecting with global positioning satellites, OnStar Turn-by-Turn Navigation can save Members time by determining a vehicle’s location and sending voice-guided directions to the driver’s chosen location. This cloud-based system — equipped with voice recognition capability, integrated steering wheel controls and Bluetooth®*63 — was created before cloud-based systems became cool.


Here’s to your vehicle’s health
With the advent of Vehicle Diagnostics,*21 OnStar can run hundreds of diagnostic and maintenance checks on your vehicle’s key operating systems and send a summary to your inbox every month. The diagnostics reports keep Members informed and give them peace of mind.


Remotely speaking
OnStar introduces Remote Diagnostics, one of the first of its kind in the industry, to take the guesswork out of your vehicle’s maintenance needs. Anytime, at the push of a button, Members can request an On-Demand Diagnostic check*21a via an Advisor.


Another first for OnStar
OnStar debuts as the industry’s first embedded telematics system and comprehensive automatic crash notification and security system. When air bags deploy, the built‑in OnStar module immediately connects to an Advisor who relays the information to First Responders, helping them work more efficiently when they arrive on the scene.


OnStar debuts in Cadillac
OnStar was initially a Dealer-installed device offered in several 1997 Cadillac models. We eventually perfected the technology with the built-in system Members use today. Now everything you need is a button-push away.


A beacon for safety
Project Beacon was launched with the cutting-edge intention of marrying wireless communications with automobiles. Satellite and cellular technology was beamed right into your vehicle. This evolved into today’s OnStar — making road trips and commutes smarter and safer for all.


D.A.I.R. we say innovation?
OnStar was a twinkle in the eye of several engineers when they created the Driver Aid, Information and Routing system, better known as D.A.I.R. This high-tech system could send an emergency message from the car to a service center and featured an automatic message to notify the driver about certain road conditions.