Cruise control is a feature that comes in handy when you drive at a constant speed. It is an electric system that allows you to set your car to a specific speed, letting you take your foot off the accelerator pedal. So, it can ease foot-fatigue and stress over a long drive. Another great benefit to using cruise control is that you are going to have greater fuel efficiency. Your vehicle will consume much less fuel if you cruise at a steady speed rather than accelerating at each section of the open road. When you accelerate sharply, it makes your engine use more energy, and you could be using 60% more fuel than one who uses cruise control. Ultimately, it's not hard to save on fuel if you let your vehicle automatically maintain a steady cruising speed.
The leading edge of cruise control today is adaptive cruise control. Almost all cars now will be equipped with this smart system. Just as conventional cruise control, adaptive cruise control allows you to set the desired travel speed. But the difference is that the adaptive cruise control maintains a safe distance between the car in front of you and your car at a consistent pace by using the forward-mounted sensors. For instance, if the car ahead of your vehicle begins to slow, adaptive cruise control will use the engine brake to automatically slow the pace of your vehicle and maintain the selected distance. Many say adaptive cruise control is a step to autonomous cars in the future. But it is not quite fully autonomous driving, since you have to keep your hands on the wheel and be fully cognizant of the road.
The driver can set the cruise control with the cruise switches, which usually consist of ON, OFF, RESUME, SET/ACCEL and COAST. These are commonly located on the steering wheel or on the windshield wiper or turn signal stalk. The SET/ACCEL knob sets the speed of the car. One tap will accelerate it by 1 mph, two by 2 mph and so on. Tapping the knob in the opposite direction will decelerate the vehicle. As a safety feature, the cruise control system will disengage as soon as you hit the brake pedal.
However, with the number of cars on roads increasing more than ever, the functionality of normal cruise control is becoming obsolete. Adaptive cruise control is quickly gaining popularity, and with good reason!
Adaptive cruise control is the next big thing in terms of automated speed management in new cars. It is an intelligent form of cruise control that slows down and speeds up automatically to keep pace with the car in front of you.
The driver sets a maximum speed similar to what one would do with normal cruise control. A radar sensor located in the front end of the car locates traffic ahead of it and locks on to the car ahead. This sensor then controls the speed of your car so that it always stays 2-3 seconds behind the car in front.
Using the input from the radar sensors, the computer unit measures the distance of the car ahead and calculates the speed relative to it. If there are multiple vehicles in the sensor’s field of coverage at the same time, it automatically selects which of the vehicles the system should track.
For instance, if you’re approaching a slower vehicle ahead or if another vehicle cuts in front of you, the adaptive cruise control slows down the car by initiating corrective controls in the engine management and, if necessary, in the braking system as well.
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