Advances in Adaptive Cruise Control

adaptive cruise control

These days, there’s a push in the automotive world to make vehicles much safer, and much more adaptable to road conditions. Not only do we rely more heavily on GPS to navigate these days, avoiding getting lost and other navigational problems, but increasingly we’re relying on automated systems in our vehicles to help improve the safety of driving. Rear view cameras and object detection systems for reversing are becoming more commonplace, and Google is making great strides on their self driving cars. One of the best innovations in recent years has been adaptive cruise control, which students in auto mechanic courses could tell you saves a bunch of money on gas, and makes the highway safer by curbing the high incidence of speeding.

What Is Adaptive Cruise Control?

Adaptive cruise control, also called autonomous cruise control, is a form of cruise control that adjusts the speed of the vehicle in relation to vehicles and obstacles in close proximity to the vehicle. Whereas regular cruise control is a set speed that the driver chooses to keep the car at, adaptive cruise control changes based on the traffic. Adaptive cruise control uses imaging technology – either lasers or radar, traditionally – to sense the distance and speed of surrounding vehicles, and then sends messages to the vehicle to adjust the speed accordingly. It’s the combined work of many a talented automotive technician, and the technology is evolving rapidly these days thanks to improved object detection system. Check out this video for a visual example of adaptive cruise control:

Technological Advances

Since the early days of adaptive cruise control, there have been a slew of advancements that have taken it from an interesting gadget to a must-have feature for highway driving. While early versions only controlled speed through throttle control and applied downshifting, newer models have intuitive brake control. Newer systems have also eschewed the use of laser and radar for advanced GPS systems, giving them much more control and much more accurate information. This has led to much more intelligent cruise control systems, and much more accurate interpretations of vehicle distance. There are also pushes for better intuitive speed control mechanisms.

One of the more advanced systems of late, an Autocruise system made by the company TWR has a forward looking range of almost 500 feet, and can operate the vehicle at speeds from 30 km/h to 180 km/h.


The next technological development in adaptive cruise control will be systems that can send and receive messages to other cars, enabling a much more reliable system of detection. However, this depends on manufacturers of these systems all coming together and agreeing on a set of specifications and features and going forward with a common operating system for these adaptive cruise control features. Given that companies and people in auto careers are profiting from the competitive nature of the market right now, this might be a ways off.

However, right now, at around $1,500, an adaptive cruise control system is still a bit of a luxury for most people. Hopefully though, with more technological advancements in the industry, the price point will come down significantly.


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