Adaptive Cruise Control

How Adaptive Cruise Control Works

Adaptive cruise control is one of the latest innovations in safety technology, currently found mostly in high-end automobiles and represents an improvement on the basic concept of cruise control. Like with a regular system, adaptive cruise control (ACC) allows the driver to set a maximum speed which the car will not surpass, making it easy for the motorist to stick to the speed limit. However, unlike regular cruise control, the system is equipped with sensors which allow for intelligent acceleration and deceleration. In other words, the car will automatically speed up and slow down in order to keep up the pace with the car in front of it.

ACC allows the car to stay within a certain limit of the vehicle in front of it. This distance is set by the driver and it is usually 2 to 4 seconds behind. Even though the technology used for this system is advanced, there is still the risk of something going wrong with the sensors, especially if the car in front brakes suddenly. In order to avoid a collision, most cars that feature ACC also pair it with a pre-crash system which automatically detects an imminent collision and begins the braking procedure.

When Is It Used?

Although ACC is being promoted as a safety feature, its most common application is during heavy traffic, stop-and-go situations during rush hours. The autonomous cruise control system makes it so that the driver does not need to constantly worry about accelerating and braking in order to keep up with the flow of the traffic.

Although all ACC systems accomplish the same task, the technology between different brands of this kind of cruise control differs. For example, most systems use a small radar to detect the traffic in front of the vehicle, placed under the front bumper or behind the grille. Others, however, use a laser and Subaru vehicles use a proprietary optical system with stereoscopic cameras. Regardless of the technology used, ACC is designed to work both day and night. However, the capabilities of this cruise control system are diminished during bouts of heavy rain, snow or fog, which is why it is not recommended to rely on it during these situations.

Even though ACC is currently considered a premium feature found only in select vehicles, its accessibility will increase in the future. It is even expected to be a core component of self-driving cars and to improve in order to detect traffic to the sides of the car, as well, in order to determine when it is safe to make a lane change.