June 16th, 2020 by Fix Auto USA
Fully autonomous cars are coming, but not anytime soon. However, drivers who can’t stand the anticipation can now get a taste of what’s to come – in the form of adaptive cruise control (ACC).
What is adaptive cruise control?
This self-driving technology, already standard on many new cars, allows drivers to speed up and slow down automatically to keep a safe distance from the cars up ahead.
The ability to automatically maintain a proper distance from the vehicle in front of you brings many benefits, from helping to avoid a crash to making stop-and-go traffic a more tolerable, if not pleasant, experience. Adaptive cruise control can also save you money since maintaining a steady speed can improve your gas mileage and reduce the frequency of your trips to the gas station. In addition, if you are one of those drivers with a knack for getting speeding tickets, now it’s easier to stay within the speed limit.
How does adaptive cruise control work?
Traditional cruise control, which was first introduced in the 1960s, enables you to drive at a set speed without keeping your foot on the accelerator. Adaptive cruise control, on the other hand, automatically reacts and adjusts to what is happening in front of your car. You can maintain a set speed until something ahead (usually slower-moving traffic) causes the system to accelerate or put on the brakes. Traditional cruise control is still appropriate for long, less crowded highways, while ACC is ideally suited for driving on busier roads with a lot of traffic.
Exactly how does adaptive cruise control work? The systems rely on one or two lasers or radars, along with a camera that are mounted within the front of the car, serving as your car’s eyes. They work individually and sometimes in concert with each other to continually scan the road ahead of you for vehicles, obstacles, and changes in traffic flow.
Different ACC brands work in different ways. Some will bring the car to a complete stop, and then re-accelerate when the traffic starts to move again. Others only function at certain speeds and require the driver to apply the accelerator after a stop. ACC with “Stop and Go” is another version that brings your car to a stop and, when traffic proceeds, automatically resumes the speed at which it was previously set.
How does adaptive cruise control work so effortlessly? Once you get the hang of it, the ACC is intuitive and easy to operate. All that’s required is switching on the ACC system, accelerating to the speed you desire, and pushing the “set” button. You can then adjust the speed manually up or down by simply pushing the button. Once you’ve programmed your desired speed, you can instruct the ACC the distance, in seconds or yards, that you wish to maintain from the car ahead of you.
When the ACC system detects that your car is approaching the car ahead of you, it slows down your vehicle and sounds a beep to alert you to the fact that you ought to put on the brakes.
As terrific a technological leap as adaptive cruise control is, some minor disadvantages should be noted. One is that there is not one standard in place for all makes and models of cars. Each system is slightly different, which means there will always be a learning curve every time you use a different vehicle equipped with ACC.
Another issue is that your ACC may not work as well in inclement weather, particularly when there’s heavy fog, snow, or rain that accumulates on the sensors. In addition, ACC may not work properly in tunnels or on wet roads.
Also note that while adaptive cruise control may be the most common name, it can also be referred to as active cruise control, autonomous cruise control, radar cruise control, and intelligent cruise control. Whatever term you use, there is no denying that this innovative technology is changing the way cars are driven. “How does adaptive cruise control work?” is a question on the minds of many drivers and many of our customers. We hope you found this overview of adaptive cruise control helpful.
We will leave you with one word of caution: while adaptive cruise control is perfectly safe to use, it does not replace the need for the driver to stay focus and remain in control at all times ACC does not equal a fully autonomous and automated car. That day may come in the not too distant future, but we are not there yet.
This blog post was contributed by Fix Auto San Francisco – Potrero Avenue a leading industry expert and collision repair shop servicing San Francisco’s historic Potrero District and Castro neighborhood.