The addition of cruise control as a vehicle feature made long drives behind the wheel exponentially more enjoyable. With this 1948 innovation, drivers were able to set the speed of their car and take their foot off the gas pedal for long periods of time. The problem with this speed-setting feature, however, was the inability to adapt in high-traffic situations or incidents where the driver needs to suddenly stop. The solution? In 1990, William Chundrlik and Pamela Labuhn invented adaptive cruise control (ACC; also called autonomous cruise control) and it was first patented in 1991 by General Motors.
What is adaptive cruise control?
Like the original version of cruise control, adaptive cruise control is meant to help the vehicle maintain a constant speed. The big difference—what makes it even smarter than the system before—is its ability to slow the vehicle down to match the speed of slower traffic in front of you, without additional driver input. Once traffic picks back up to the original speed, the vehicle will automatically accelerate to match the speed of traffic.
How does adaptive cruise control work?
Adaptive cruise control functions through the use of lasers or a radar-based sensor system. When activated, its sensors detect and lock on to the next vehicle ahead. The driver can then set the following distance between their vehicle and the car ahead. If the distance changes, the system will adjust the vehicle’s speed accordingly to maintain this set gap. This is what qualifies ACC as an advanced driver-assistance system (ADAS). In a nutshell, when traffic speeds up or slows down, your car—through its ACC system—will speed up or slow down, all without having to lift a foot.
Just like the original cruise control, adaptive cruise control has added another level of safety and convenience to the driving experience.
Where is this all going?
The introduction of adaptive cruise control is just another step toward the eventual scenario in which cars are driving autonomously. Vehicle control and sensory systems are tracking at a pace where—within the next decade—self-driving cars will be the norm, and road trips will be forever changed.
Here at Protech Automotive Solutions, we are dedicated to ensuring that every one of the vehicles repaired by our partners is brought back to pre-accident condition through our scanning and diagnostics technology. When it comes to ADAS systems, one misaligned sensor can be detrimental on the road. That is why our teammates are highly-trained and equipped to scan, diagnose and calibrate vehicles and fulfill our Purpose—Giving Lives the All Clear.