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How Cruise Control Systems Work

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cruise control

Cruise control is an invaluable feature on Ameri­can ­cars. Without cruise control, long road trips would be more tiring, for the driver at least, and those of us suffering from lead-foot syndrome would probably get a lot more speeding tickets.

­Cruise control is far more common on American cars than European cars, because the roads in America are generally bigger and straighter, and destinations are farther apart. With traffic continually increasing, basic cruise control is becoming less useful, but instead of becoming obsolete, cruise control systems are adapting to this new reality -- soon, cars will be equipped with adaptive cruise control, which will allow your ­car to follow the car in front of it while continually adjusting speed to maintain a safe distance.

In this article, we'll learn how a conventional cruise control system works, and then we'll take a look at adaptive cruise control systems that are under development.

What Cruise Control Does

Cruise control acceleration and deceleration, controlling the cruise control, adaptive cruise control.

car cruise control sensor

The cruise control system actually has a lot of functions other than controlling the speed of your car. For instance, the cruise control pictured below can accelerate or decelerate the car by 1 mph with the tap of a button. Hit the button five times to go 5 mph faster. There are also several important safety features -- the cruise control will disengage as soon as you hit the brake pedal, and it won't engage at speeds less than 25 mph (40 kph).

The system pictured below has five buttons: On, Off, Set/Accel, Resume and Coast. It also has a sixth control -- the brake pedal, and if your car has a manual transmission the clutch pedal is also hooked up to the cruise control.

  • The on and off buttons don't actually do much. Hitting the on button does not do anything except tell the car that you might be hitting another button soon. The off button turns the cruise control off even if it is engaged. Some cruise controls don't have these buttons; instead, they turn off when the driver hits the brakes, and turn on when the driver hits the set button.
  • The set/accel button tells the car to maintain the speed you are currently driving. If you hit the set button at 45 mph, the car will maintain your speed at 45 mph. Holding down the set/accel button will make the car accelerate; and on this car, tapping it once will make the car go 1 mph faster.
  • If you recently disengaged the cruise control by hitting the brake pedal, hitting the resume button will command the car to accelerate back to the most recent speed setting.
  • Holding down the coast button will cause the car to decelerate, just as if you took your foot completely off the gas. On this car, tapping the coast button once will cause the car to slow down by 1 mph.
  • The brake pedal and clutch pedal each have a switch that disengages the cruise control as soon as the pedal is pressed, so you can shut off the cruise control with a light tap on the brake or clutch.

car cruise control sensor

The cruise control system controls the speed of your car the same way you do -- by adjusting the throttle position . But cruise control actuates the throttle valve by a cable connected to an actuator , instead of by pressing a pedal. The throttle valve controls the power and speed of the engine by limiting how much air the engine takes in (see How Fuel Injection Systems Work for more details).

In the picture above, you can see two cables connected to a pivot that moves the throttle valve. One cable comes from the accelerator pedal, and one from the actuator. When the cruise control is engaged, the actuator moves the cable connected to the pivot, which adjusts the throttle; but it also pulls on the cable that is connected to the gas pedal -- this is why your pedal moves up and down when the cruise control is engaged.

car cruise control sensor

Many cars use actuators powered by engine vacuum to open and close the throttle. These systems use a small, electronically-controlled valve to regulate the vacuum in a diaphragm. This works in a similar way to the brake booster , which provides power to your brake system.

car cruise control sensor

The brain of a cruise control system is a small computer that is normally found under the hood or behind the dashboard. It connects to the throttle control seen in the previous section, as well as several sensors. The diagram below shows the inputs and outputs of a typical cruise control system.

A good cruise control system accelerates aggressively to the desired speed without overshooting, and then maintains that speed with little deviation no matter how much weight is in the car, or how steep the hill you drive up. Controlling the speed of a car is a classic application of control system theory . The cruise control system controls the speed of the car by adjusting the throttle position, so it needs sensors to tell it the speed and throttle position. It also needs to monitor the controls so it can tell what the desired speed is and when to disengage.

The most important input is the speed signal; the cruise control system does a lot with this signal. First, let's start with one of the most basic control systems you could have -- a proportional control .

In a proportional control system, the cruise control adjusts the throttle proportional to the error, the error being the difference between the desired speed and the actual speed. So, if the cruise control is set at 60 mph and the car is going 50 mph, the throttle position will be open quite far. When the car is going 55 mph, the throttle position opening will be only half of what it was before. The result is that the closer the car gets to the desired speed, the slower it accelerates. Also, if you were on a steep enough hill, the car might not accelerate at all.

Most cruise control systems use a control scheme called proportional-integral-derivative control (a.k.a. PID control). Don't worry, you don't need to know any calculus to make it through this explanation -- just remember that:

  • The integral of speed is distance.
  • The derivative of speed is acceleration.

A PID control system uses these three factors -- proportional, integral and derivative, calculating each individually and adding them to get the throttle position.

We've already discussed the proportional factor. The integral factor is based on the time integral of the vehicle speed error . Translation: the difference between the distance your car actually traveled and the distance it would have traveled if it were going at the desired speed, calculated over a set period of time. This factor helps the car deal with hills, and also helps it settle into the correct speed and stay there. Let's say your car starts to go up a hill and slows down. The proportional control increases the throttle a little, but you may still slow down. After a little while, the integral control will start to increase the throttle, opening it more and more, because the longer the car maintains a speed slower than the desired speed, the larger the distance error gets.

Now let's add in the final factor, the derivative . Remember that the derivative of speed is acceleration. This factor helps the cruise control respond quickly to changes, such as hills. If the car starts to slow down, the cruise control can see this acceleration (slowing down and speeding up are both acceleration) before the speed can actually change much, and respond by increasing the throttle position.

Two companies are developing a more advanced cruise control that can automatically adjust a car's speed to maintain a safe following distance. This new technology, called adaptive cruise control , uses forward-looking radar , installed behind the grill of a vehicle, to detect the speed and distance of the vehicle ahead of it.

Adaptive cruise control is similar to conventional cruise control in that it maintains the vehicle's pre-set speed. However, unlike conventional cruise control, this new system can automatically adjust speed in order to maintain a proper distance between vehicles in the same lane. This is achieved through a radar headway sensor , digital signal processor and longitudinal controller . If the lead vehicle slows down, or if another object is detected, the system sends a signal to the engine or braking system to decelerate. Then, when the road is clear, the system will re-accelerate the vehicle back to the set speed.

The 77-GHz Autocruise radar system made by TRW has a forward-looking range of up to 492 feet (150 meters), and operates at vehicle speeds ranging from 18.6 miles per hour (30 kph) to 111 mph (180 kph). Delphi's 76-GHz system can also detect objects as far away as 492 feet, and operates at speeds as low as 20 mph (32 kph).

Adaptive cruise control is just a preview of the technology being developed by both companies. These systems are being enhanced to include collision warning capabilities that will warn drivers through visual and/or audio signals that a collision is imminent and that braking or evasive steering is needed.

For more information on cruise control, check out the links below.

Cruise Control FAQ

How does cruise control work, how does adaptive cruise control work, will adaptive cruise control stop the vehicle, when would you use cruise control, how useful is cruise control, lots more information, related articles.

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Cruise Control Explained: How It Works, And When You Should Use It

Steering wheel cruise control concept

Self-driving cars are becoming increasingly intelligent , but whether they'll ever be ubiquitous and fully capable remains unclear. Tesla notes (for now) that its Full Self Driving Capability is "intended for use with a fully attentive driver, who has their hands on the wheel and is prepared to take over at any moment." For many drivers at present, the automatic functions of their cars are limited to the likes of beeping sensors, flashing displays, and features like cruise control.

Cruise control is a feature provided as standard on a wide range of vehicles; it's one of those functions that some drivers adore and others barely use. While the feature doesn't take over from the driver by any means, it can significantly ease their burden. Essentially, cruise control allows drivers to select an appropriate speed for the road, conditions, and general journey they're currently on, and automatically prevents the vehicle from deviating from that speed.

Experienced drivers, of course, will probably be familiar with the basics of what cruise control does, even if they haven't really used it themselves. Rather more complex than that, though, is the question of exactly how it keeps the vehicle moving at a specific speed. If you've ever wondered how cruise control works, what the pros and cons of using it are, how it's developed since its introduction, and/or when to use it, this is just the piece for you.

The essentials of how cruise control works

Cruise control as we know it today has its roots in the ingenuity of Ralph Teetor. Though he lost his vision following an accident, Teetor rose to become the president of the Society of Automotive Engineers. In that capacity, he used both his passion for auto safety and his extensive experience with other drivers to create the first example of cruise control. In 1950, Teetor held a patent for technology referred to as a "Speed Control Device For Resisting Operation Of The Accelerator," also called the Speedostat, and it worked just as the name implied: the driver could opt for a certain speed by selecting it from the dash, then, through the drive shaft, a piston would provide resisting force on the pedal after arriving at that speed.

The basics of how cruise control functions haven't actually changed very much. Depending on the vehicle model, the input for choosing the desired speed may now be a touchscreen, but the effect is the same: a connected actuator receives the signal from the control device, and, as it runs to the valve for the throttle, is used to control the strength of the force acting on the throttle. Accelerating faster or slower depending on how much faster the inputted speed is, the vehicle will then reach said speed and hold the accelerator in place (though not necessarily physically as Teetor's Speedostat did). This is a mechanically-oriented form of cruise control, but some modern vehicles utilize adaptive cruise control instead.

How is adaptive cruise control different?

The basic concept of cruise control, of course, is centered more around what the specific vehicle is doing, rather than what's on the road around it. Drivers can simply brake as they typically would in response to other drivers, overriding the constant-speed effect of cruise control, which means that autonomy isn't really a factor in cruise control beyond maintaining the speed. Adaptive cruise control like the kind found in some Acura vehicles , however, is a little more sophisticated.

Adaptive cruise control is a feature more able to do exactly that: adapt. This means that while the driver selects the vehicle's cruising speed as before, it is not locked to that speed. Another crucial thing to take into account is the vehicle's distance from others; adaptive or autonomous cruise control adds small and discreet radar systems (inputs situated somewhere near the vehicle's front lights) to the equation to monitor the surrounding area. These radars have ranges from approximately 100 feet to around 600 feet, depending on the vehicle.

A car with ACC will commonly boast small wheel-mounted units that measure its speed, along with a front-mounted one that can determine how far away other vehicles are. The former can adjust how fast your vehicle is moving relative to any motorists ahead, thereby ensuring that you always maintain your selected distance from them. Braking capacity while the system is active differs, but typically, the driver will be alerted to brake heavily if necessary (if a driver ahead does the same for instance).

When cruise control should be used

Some drivers often have the luxury of wide, peaceful, near-empty roads. For others, driving tends to be a commuter's cacophony of traffic jams, honking horns, and slow stop-start-stop-start progress. The experience can differ greatly depending on the time of day and whether it's a weekday or the weekend. The bottom line, though, is that one of these scenarios is a far better fit for cruise control than the other.

Brakes remain operational during the use of cruise control, and engaging them will override the system. This means two things: the driver's attention must still firmly remain on the road as ever (we're not at  level 5 on the autonomous driving scale here) and cruise control has sharply decreased utility in congested areas. By contrast, if you're a driver who frequently takes long-distance trips on open roads, cruise control could be the perfect feature for you. An alert and rested driver is a safe driver, and where longer journeys can compromise those things, cruise control reduces some of that pressure.

Adaptive cruise control, which monitors the ever-changing road ahead continuously via radar or laser, is potentially better equipped to handle congested roads. There's no definitive answer on whether that's the case, however, because this feature is very different from vehicle to vehicle.

Different manufacturers have different cruise control features

Cruise control is a common feature, and adaptive cruise control is becoming increasingly widespread too. The matter of how the two types of cruise control work is a very complex one beyond the basics, though, because different vehicle manufacturers have developed their own unique features for it and implemented the system in different ways.

For example, Audi's Traffic Jam Assist technology can be activated in tandem with its adaptive cruise control, thereby supporting the driver in conditions that aren't optimal for the latter. By means of ultrasonic sensors, radar, and a windshield camera, the vehicle will maintain a consistent distance from the one ahead in traffic while staying oriented on the road. The driver takes full manual controlwhen the congestion clears or Traffic Jam Assist otherwise becomes unsuitable for the situation.

Similarly, select Ford models are among those that offer Intelligent Adaptive Cruise Control, implementing advanced features such as Speed Sign Recognition (which aims to prevent adaptive cruise control users from being caught out by speed limits by adjusting the chosen speed to match them) and Stop-and-Go (limited capacity to stop entirely in response to a vehicle ahead doing the same). As always, drivers should consult their vehicle manual to determine which cruise control features are available and how to use them.

Pros and cons of cruise control and adaptive cruise control

Cruise control can be advantageous for drivers in other ways too. In its capacity to ensure a vehicle remains at a steady speed, where possible, it can boost driving efficiency. According to Natural Resources Canada , varying your speed by around 6 mph every 18 seconds can be 20% more costly in terms of fuel. Cruise control, in a general sense, aims to be as efficient as possible within the parameters the driver provides, which can potentially translate to less fuel being used over time.

This is only the case when driving for longer stretches on wide, clear roads, however. The reason is that there are certain things human drivers are better at than their machine counterparts, and adjusting speed subtly in response to changes in elevation is one of them. Failing to do so can be wasteful. 

On a similar note, Vanderbilt University  found that drivers are more adaptable in their thinking and processing of multiple vehicles and their movements on the road, while cruise control features tend to have a rather narrower focus in terms of the vehicle(s) in front. Cruise control can serve as an invaluable tool for drivers, but isn't infallible. Ensuring that you use it for its intended purpose is the key to best taking advantage of it.

Cruise Control In Cars Explained (And How To Safely Use It)

car cruise control sensor

Have you ever wished you could set your car's speed and just sit back and relax while driving on a long stretch of highway? If that's the case, then cruise control is just the ticket you've been searching for—and the good news is, it's a standard feature in most cars these days!

Cruise control is a handy feature for drivers that allows you to maintain a constant speed without having to keep your foot on the gas pedal. In this post, we'll explore how cruise control works, its benefits, and how to use it safely to make your driving experience more comfortable.

Understanding Cruise Control

Cruise control, also known as speed control, is an electronic system that allows you to maintain a specific speed without manually controlling the accelerator pedal. The system uses sensors and electronic components to control the throttle and keep your car moving at a desired speed. First introduced in the late 1950s, cruise control has since become a standard feature in most modern vehicles you see on the road today.

How Does It Work?

At its core, cruise control involves a series of sensors that monitor the vehicle's speed and a control unit that regulates the throttle. When the driver sets the cruise control to a specific speed, the system adjusts the throttle to maintain that speed. If the car begins to slow down because of an incline (e.g. going up a hill), the system will open the throttle to accelerate. Conversely, if the car starts to speed up due to a declin (e.g. going downhill), the system will close the throttle to decelerate.

Modern cruise control systems also come with additional features like adaptive cruise control (ACC), which uses radar or cameras to detect vehicles ahead and automatically adjusts the speed to maintain a safe following distance (more on this BELOW).

The History of Cruise Control

The invention of cruise control can be traced back to the late 1940s and early 1950s, when engineer Ralph Teetor developed the first-speed control system. This innovative feature was designed to help drivers maintain a steady speed, reduce fatigue while driving, and improve fuel efficiency. Over the years, cruise control technology has undergone significant advancements, leading to the development of sophisticated systems like adaptive cruise control.

Types of Cruise Control Systems

Today, drivers can choose from a range of cruise control systems, each with its own unique features and functionalities.

Conventional Cruise Control

Conventional cruise control is like your old reliable friend. It's pretty basic and doesn't have any fancy bells and whistles. You just set the speed you want, and it'll keep your car cruising along at that speed, no problem. It's perfect for those long drives on open highways, but it doesn’t automatically react to other cars on the road.

So, if the car in front of you slows down, you'll need to step in and adjust your speed manually. This trusty system comes standard on most cars and is great for saving some fuel on those long road trips .

Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC)

Now, if conventional cruise control is your old reliable friend, then Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) is like that friend's tech-savvy younger cousin. ACC isn't just maintaining your set speed, it's also keeping an eye on the car in front of you. If that car slows down, ACC slows your car down to keep a safe distance .

It's like having an extra set of eyes on the road, making highway driving a breeze. Plus, some ACC systems can even handle stop-and-go traffic, bringing your car to a full stop and then picking up speed again when traffic gets moving.

Predictive Cruise Control

Predictive Cruise Control is like the fortune teller of cruise control systems. It uses GPS and map data to see into the future and predict what's coming up on the road, like hills or curves, and adjusts your speed accordingly. This means you get a smoother ride and better fuel efficiency, but it all depends on the quality of the GPS and map data. If that's a bit out of date, your fortune-telling cruise control might not be so accurate. It's usually found in more high-end vehicles where top-notch fuel efficiency is a focus for the engineers.

Cooperative Adaptive Cruise Control (CACC)

And then we have Cooperative Adaptive Cruise Control, or CACC. This is like the team player of cruise control systems. It allows cars to talk to each other, coordinating their speeds to maintain a safe distance. It's like having a well-coordinated team of cars all working together to make the traffic flow smoother and reduce congestion. Picture it like a synchronized dance on the highway, where every car knows its place and keeps the right distance. This tech is still pretty new, but it's got a lot of potential. Imagine a future where traffic jams could be a thing of the past.

Remember, these systems are here to make your drive smoother and safer, but they're not a replacement for your attention. No matter how fancy your cruise control is, these systems can be greatly influenced by external conditions like weather and traffic, and they should always be used as aids, not replacements, for attentive driving.

Common Cruise Control Symbols and Indicators

Understanding the various symbols and indicators associated with cruise control is important for safe and effective usage. These symbols typically appear on the dashboard (or on the side of the steering wheel) and may include a speedometer icon, "SET," "RES" (resume), and "CANCEL". Be sure to consult your vehicle's owner's manual for specific details and explanations of these symbols.

Benefits of Using Cruise Control

Cruise control offers several benefits to drivers, especially during long road trips or highway driving.

Fuel Efficiency

One of the main advantages of using cruise control is improved fuel efficiency. By maintaining a constant speed, cruise control helps reduce fuel consumption, leading to better gas mileage. Rapid acceleration and deceleration, on the other hand, can lead to increased fuel consumption.

Comfort and Convenience

Cruise control allows drivers to take their foot off the accelerator pedal, reducing fatigue and improving comfort during long drives. It also helps drivers avoid unintentionally exceeding the speed limit by setting a maximum speed.

When used correctly, cruise control can contribute to safer driving. By maintaining a steady speed, it reduces the likelihood of erratic driving behavior and potential accidents. However, it is important to note that cruise control shouldn't be used in certain conditions, such as heavy traffic or slippery roads .

Troubleshooting Common Cruise Control Issues

Occasionally, you may encounter issues with your cruise control systems. Common problems include cruise control not engaging or disengaging unexpectedly. Possible causes may include a faulty brake light switch, malfunctioning sensors, or issues with the control module. If you experience any problems with your cruise control, it's best to have a qualified technician diagnose and repair the issue for you.

Cruise Control and Road Etiquette

Practicing proper road etiquette while using cruise control is essential for a safe and pleasant driving experience. Here are some tips on how to use cruise control courteously:

  • Avoid using cruise control in heavy or congested traffic, as it may hinder your ability to react quickly to changing conditions.
  • Be mindful of other drivers when setting your speed. Avoid setting a speed that's significantly slower or faster than the flow of traffic.
  • If you are in the passing lane and using cruise control, be sure to adjust your speed or temporarily disengage the system to allow faster-moving vehicles to pass.
  • Always signal your intentions, such as lane changes or exiting the highway, even when using cruise control.

The Future of Cruise Control Technology

Cruise control technology plays a vital role in the development of autonomous vehicles, or self-driving cars . In autonomous vehicles, cruise control systems work together with other advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) to enable the vehicle to operate without direct driver input. These systems include lane-keeping assist, automatic emergency braking, and collision avoidance systems.

As autonomous vehicles become more sophisticated, cruise control technology is evolving to support higher levels of automation. For example, some autonomous vehicles are equipped with advanced cruise control systems that can navigate complex traffic scenarios, merge onto highways, and even change lanes autonomously.

While fully autonomous vehicles are still in the developmental stages, the integration of cruise control technology is a big step toward creating safer and more efficient transportation systems.

As automotive tech continues to advance, cruise control systems are becoming more intelligent and capable. Here are some potential developments we can expect to see in the future of cruise control technology:

  • Integration of artificial intelligence (AI) to improve decision-making and responsiveness in adaptive cruise control systems.
  • Enhanced connectivity and vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication, enabling cars to share information about traffic conditions and coordinate their speeds for smoother traffic flow.
  • Greater customization and personalization options, allowing drivers to set preferences for cruise control behavior, such as following distance and speed adjustments.

Overall, the future of cruise control technology holds promise for creating a more seamless and enjoyable driving experience, with a focus on safety, comfort, and sustainability.

Debunking Myths About Cruise Control

Let's address and debunk some common misconceptions about cruise control:

Myth : Cruise control can be used as a substitute for driver attention.

Fact : Cruise control is a driver assistance feature, not a replacement for attentive driving. Drivers should always remain alert and ready to take control when necessary.

Myth : Cruise control increases the risk of accidents.

Fact : When used appropriately, cruise control can contribute to safer driving by maintaining a steady speed and reducing erratic driving behavior.

Cruise control is a valuable feature that can enhance your driving experience by providing comfort, convenience, and fuel efficiency. Remember to use it safely and appropriately based on driving conditions, and always stay attentive while on the road.

If you found this post informative and want to learn more about car features, driving tips, and automotive technology, be sure to subscribe to our newsletter for regular updates. We're here to help you stay informed and enhance your driving experience.

Frequently Asked Questions About Cruise Control

To further enhance your understanding of cruise control, here are answers to some common questions:

Q : Can cruise control be used in all weather conditions?

A : It isn't advisable to use cruise control in adverse weather conditions, such as heavy rain, snow, or icy roads, as it may reduce your ability to respond quickly to changing road conditions.

Q : Can I use cruise control in urban areas with frequent stop-and-go traffic?

A : Cruise control is best suited for open roads and highways with consistent traffic flow. It isn't recommended for use in urban areas with frequent stops or heavy traffic.

Q : Does cruise control work at any speed?

A : Cruise control typically has a minimum speed threshold, below which it can't be engaged. This threshold varies by vehicle, so check your owner's manual for specific information.

About the Author: This article was crafted by the LOOP Marketing Team. Comprising of seasoned professionals with expertise in the insurance industry, our team is dedicated to providing readers with accurate, up-to-date, and valuable information. At LOOP, we're passionate about helping families navigate the world of car insurance, ensuring they get the best coverage at the most affordable rates. Learn more about our mission and values here.

For more insights on auto insurance and other related topics, visit our blog .

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We invented cars as means of transportation, to go faster and to go further. But the evolution of cars didn't stop there. Comfort has become a necessity, leading to the invention of features purely for driver convenience—features such as cruise control.

Cruise control lets you take your foot off the gas pedal without your car losing speed. With cruise control, you enter the speed, and then the car keeps cruising at that speed.

It's bliss for driving long distances on highways, but how does cruise control actually work?

What Is Cruise Control?

Cruise control is a driving assist that maintains a constant driving speed without your foot on the gas pedal. Cruise control has been around for a long time, but only in the past few years has it become more common in economy cars.

There are various types of cruise control mechanisms, and these usually work according to the type of throttle system in your car. However, some manufacturers take this feature to the next level with adaptive cruise control, automatically altering cruise speed.

Cruise control has evolved many times since it was first used in automobiles. As mentioned before, cruise control's working mechanism revolves around the throttle system. Right now, there are mostly two types of throttle systems in the cars you see out in the streets: the older cable throttle and the newer drive-by-wire throttle.

Cruise Control in Older Cars with Cable Throttle

Cable throttle systems use mechanical connections, and thus, the cruise control on these cars works mechanically as well.

In cars with cable throttle systems, the cruise control actuator is connected to the throttle body through a cable on one side. On the other side, the actuator is connected to a pump.

Most cruise control actuators in cable throttle bodies use a set of springs and rely on vacuum pressure. The pump connected to the actuator creates a vacuum that tightens the springs in the actuator and this, in turn, puts tension on the cable. This cable is connected to the throttle body, and when the actuator puts tension on the cable, the throttle body opens in response. This ultimately gives your car gas without the gas pedal being used.

Related: What Is an Immobilizer and Does My Car Have One?

Now remains the question of how a specific speed is set for the actuator. This all goes through the car's electronic control unit or ECU. You press a button in your car to activate cruise control, and the ECU powers the pump in just the right amount to put the right tension on the cable. Lo and behold your car drives without your foot on the gas pedal!

The ECU also takes info from the speed sensor to see if the current speed and the target speed match. If your car is going faster than it should, then the ECU will release some tension on the cable, and if it's going slower, it will increase the tension.

Some cars use valves instead of pumps to create the vacuum in the cruise control actuator. In that case, the ECU is responsible for opening and closing that valve.

Keep in mind that there are various types of cruise control actuators, and not all use springs, though most do.

Cruise Control in Newer Cars with Drive-By-Wire Throttle

The cruise control system in newer cars with drive-by-wire throttle bodies is entirely electronic. Since there are no mechanical parts involved, the ECU gets the current speed and decreases or increases it to reach the target speed.

In these cars, the ECU talks directly to the electronic control module (ECM). The ECM is responsible for controlling the throttle body to accelerate or decelerate. Once you set your preferred speed, the ECU grabs that and sorts it out with the ECM and just like that, your car drives at your preferred speed.

How Does Adaptive Cruise Control Work?

Adaptive cruise control (ACC) is an advanced form of cruise control that takes in information from sensors other than the speed sensor to determine the ideal speed in real-time.

ACC talks to proximity sensors such as radar and lidar, speed sensors, and a combination of cameras to take in the other vehicles on the road and the road itself. Once the signals are received and processed, ACC determines the safe distance and speed.

This system then alters the speed accordingly, reducing your car's speed if you're getting too close to another car in front or if you're nearing a turn. Once the road is clear, ACC accelerates the car to the target speed you have set.

In some cars, ACC can even trigger the brake systems to decelerate the car quickly in case the car in front suddenly brakes or a hazard appears.

Related: How Does Adaptive High Beam Assistance Work?

Cruise Control in Motorcycles

Unlike cars, motorcycles don't have gas pedals. They have gas handles instead. Unfortunately, holding a gas handle for a long duration is much more frustrating than holding a gas pedal. This nuisance has called for a technology similar to cruise control in function but different in design: throttle lock.

Throttle lock functions similarly to cruise control in cable throttle cars, except it skips the actuator and the ECU and directly deals with the throttle body.

Throttle lock works by locking the throttle cable and maintaining a constant amount of tension on the cable. This keeps the motorcycle cruising at a steady speed.

The simplicity of the throttle lock has a catch. Throttle lock doesn't check in with the speed sensors to see if it's going any faster or slower than the target speed, so it only works well on flat roads.

When to Use (and Not to Use!) Cruise Control

Use cruise control on straight roads with little traffic. As a safety measure, braking will disengage cruise control, and on a road with lots of vehicles, you'll need to brake often.

Cars naturally decelerate when you take your foot off the gas pedal, but that won't be the case when you have cruise control activated. It might be too late by the time you hit the brakes when you use cruise control on a crowded road.

This also goes for roads with lots of turns and twists. Entering a sharp turn with high speed is often dangerous. Put the turns behind you and once you have a straight road, engage the cruise control.

Though the point of cruise control is to make your ride more comfortable, it's prone to make you a bit too comfortable. Falling asleep behind the wheels with cruise control engaged is likelier to happen. Albeit this time, the car won't decelerate and will keep going.

Related: Standalone vs. Integrated Car Navigation Systems: What's the Best Option?

Adaptive cruise control solves most of the limitations that come with ordinary cruise control systems, but it still isn't flawless. Adaptive cruise control relies on your car's sensors to decide the appropriate speed, and these sensors can get blocked in bad weather. Snow, mud, rain, and other natural hazards can get in the way of your car's sensors and make the adaptive cruise control less reliable.

Adaptive cruise control has limited access to the braking system, and it won't be able to stop a head-on collision. Use the brakes yourself and remember that cruise control is only a driver assist feature, not an autopiloting system.

With this in mind, please take full control of your vehicle in bad weather and tricky roads. Don't trust the cruise control, be it normal or adaptive.

Cruising with Control

The cruise control system was first strictly found on high-end luxury cars, but now even economy cars are often equipped with this feature. This system makes driving long trips much easier, as you don't have to keep your foot on the gas pedal for hours.

Though cruise control makes things easier, it doesn't mean that you should use cruise control all the time. There are times where you need to take things into your own hands.

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Distinguishing between basic and adaptive cruise control.

They've been equipped on vehicles for many decades, but what does cruise control actually do in a car? Early examples did little more than maintain a selected speed, with the driver then taking over if that speed becomes unsafe for any reason. This reduces fatigue or the likelihood of inadvertently exceeding the speed limit, especially over longer distances. Cruise control is what many Americans demand, owing to our extensive road network.

Modern systems, often termed adaptive cruise control (ACC), are far more advanced. They quite literally 'adapt' to changing traffic conditions. These systems utilize several sensors to automatically keep an appropriate following distance from the preceding car. Without human intervention, the car can slow down or accelerate, accounting for the typical fluctuations in speed that occur in everyday driving.

ACC was once the preserve of luxury sedans, but now it can be found on nearly any SUV and even hard-working trucks.

What’s in a Name - Different Types of Adaptive Cruise Control Systems

Not only are there different kinds of cruise control systems, but depending on the manufacturer, they will have unique names. Below are a few examples of similar systems but with different names:

  • BMW's Dynamic Cruise Control or Active Cruise Control
  • Cadillac's Super Cruise
  • Tesla's Autopilot
  • Nissan's Intelligent Cruise Control
  • Mercedes-Benz's Active Distance Assist Distronic

So, what is an ACC system from BMW and how does it differ from one made by Audi or Mercedes ? Fundamentally, many of these systems function in exactly the same way and merely carry unique names. In some cases, an aftermarket system can be fitted to a vehicle without standard speed control. If you take this route, make sure that the installation is done by a reputable company.

How Does Modern Cruise Control Work?

Adaptive cruise control is what makes semi-autonomous driving possible. In general, a car with ACC incorporates some combination of radar sensors, lasers, and cameras to identify other vehicles or obstacles in the vicinity. Radar- and laser-based systems both make use of sensors integrated into the vehicle's front fascia. This information is transmitted to the car's mechanical systems, which respond accordingly. That's a cruise control definition in a nutshell.

Notably, a laser-based sensor can struggle during storms or other periods of low visibility. Radar cruise control is used by automakers like Toyota . Another type is binocular computer vision systems, where tiny cameras installed on the back of the rearview mirror can pick up on objects ahead of your car.

Some iterations of a cruise control system will merely alert the driver to take action if a preceding vehicle gets too close. Other systems will take evasive action and brake the car automatically. Modern stop-and-go systems, often termed traffic jam assist, takes the hassle out of navigating rush hour traffic.

In terms of mechanical speed control, an actuator is employed to which a cable is connected. This setup actuates the throttle valve, effectively performing the same job as you would if you depressed the gas pedal with your foot. Another component is the speed control module, effectively the "brains" behind the system that remembers the desired speed.

How to Operate Cruise Control

It's always a good idea to consult your owner's manual for guidance on how to use cruise control. As with many vehicle functions like switching on lights, operating the ventilation system, or even using the indicator, each automaker does things slightly differently. For the most part, the process is the same. You will set your desired speed as well as the gap you'd like to maintain from the preceding vehicle. From there, it's simple. The car does the hard work and will stick to either the chosen speed, the following distance, or both simultaneously.

However, as systems differ, it's important to take some time to acclimatize to your car's specific ACC. Some will only provide minimal braking before we need to intervene, while other cars can stop completely. In both cases, it's important to remain focused on your surroundings. Some vehicles allow you to choose how aggressively the system slows down or picks up speed. At times, you may want to stick to the basic speed control setting when there will be minimal slowing down.

In inclement weather conditions or when it's raining, the sensors can't always operate as effectively. In these conditions, it's advised not to use the ACC. If the feature is not working as you know it should, it's best not to activate it at all.

Before buying a particular model with ACC, it's worth going for an extended test drive to ascertain if the feature improves your driving experience.

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Adaptive Cruise Control: What is ACC in ADAS?

  • June 3, 2021

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What is ACC in ADAS?

When it comes to cars, ACC stands for Adaptive Cruise Control. In a Consumer Reports survey , 85 percent of drivers with Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) on their vehicles said they were very satisfied with it. What’s more, 19 percent said their ACC system helped to avoid a crash.

Standard cruise control has been around since the 1950s . Adaptive cruise control has been in development since the 1990s . Mercedes was the first automaker to bring ACC to the U.S. market in 1999 . Twenty years later, automakers are still working to improve their cruise control offerings. In the meantime, ACC technology has become one of the building blocks of autonomous driving.

In this article, we will explain adaptive cruise control and how it works, provide examples of ACC features in ADAS packages, and explain the importance of adaptive cruise control calibration.

What is Adaptive Cruise Control?

Adaptive cruise control or Active Cruise Control (ACC) is an advanced driver assistance system (ADAS) that automatically adjusts a vehicle’s speed when there are slow-moving vehicles ahead, with the aim of maintaining a safe following distance. When the road ahead is clear, ACC automatically accelerates to your pre-set speed. Adaptive cruise control is ideal for highway speeds.

ACC is a major component and precursor of fully autonomous vehicles. According to SAE , Driving Automation Level 1 driver support features provide steering OR brake/acceleration to the driver while the jump to Level 2 requires features that provide both steering AND brake/acceleration to the driver. On its own, ACC is a Level 1, but when combined with another driver assist feature that steers, your vehicle reaches Level 2 on the Driving Automation scale – a step closer to fully autonomous driving .

As a foundation of autonomous driving, ACC has the capability of reducing driver stress and radically improving driver safety. A study from the Highway Loss Data Institute studied insurance claims data from 2013-2017 BMW vehicles to see how ADAS affected collision, damage, and injury rates. The BMW Driving Assistance package added ACC to the following ADAS: Forward Collision Warning , Lane Departure Warning , Front Automatic Emergency Braking . With the addition of ACC, this package reduced the rates of property damage by 27 percent and bodily injury claim rates by 37 percent.

How does Adaptive Cruise Control work?

Just as with traditional cruise control, the adaptive cruise control system requires drivers to choose their preferred speed. Next, ACC requires drivers to set their preferred following distance from the vehicle’s pre-set options. Many have close, medium, and far selections to toggle between.

Sensors Used in Adaptive Cruise Control

Vehicles with adaptive cruise control use ACC sensor data to tell your car’s speed, distance from other vehicles, and the speed of vehicles ahead of you. There are many types of adaptive cruise control technology. The following types of sensors have all been used for ACC:

  • Laser (Lidar)

Most (but not all) current forms of this ADAS use radar as their main source of information. A radar sensor mounted in the front of the vehicle is used to analyze the road ahead. It does this by emitting radio waves and measuring how long they take to return to the ACC sensor. A few internal calculations and your vehicle can tell the car’s distance and speed. Data from the radar distance sensors and the vehicle speed sensors are used to adjust your speed and keep your car a set distance from the one ahead of you.

ACC System Versions and Commonly Bundled ADAS

Most automakers have their own version of adaptive cruise control. Not everyone uses the same names for their ACC system. Here are a few industry terms that are all different names for ACC:

  • Dynamic cruise control
  • Intelligent cruise control
  • Radar cruise control
  • Radar adaptive cruise control
  • Dynamic laser cruise control
  • Autonomous cruise control
  • Smart cruise control
  • Dynamic radar cruise control

ACC with Stop & Go, Traffic Jam

Beyond the similar naming, there are several different features that adaptive cruise control is often bundled with to provide sensor fusion. One example of this is a feature called ACC with Stop and Go or ACC with Traffic Jam Assist. This adds the ability to come to a complete stop via automatic braking and then re-accelerate to the car’s set speed as traffic moves. All the while, data from sensors is used to keep a set, safe distance from cars ahead when you encounter heavy traffic.

Because it’s not an autonomous car, those with stop and go capabilities will only “go” again within three seconds if traffic flow allows. If it’s longer than three seconds, driver action is needed to re-engage the system.

ACC + Forward Collision Warning & Automatic Braking

Forward Collision Warning and Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB) advanced driver assistance systems are often combined with ACC to provide audible alerts, instrument panel alerts, and tactile warnings of a forward collision risk, then automatic braking to prevent or mitigate damage from a collision.

ACC + Lane Centering

Adaptive Cruise Control works well with others. As previously mentioned, when adaptive cruise control is combined with an ADAS with steering capabilities like lane centering and proactive lane keeping assist systems, your car is considered a Level 2 on the SAE autonomous driving scale — meaning that the vehicle can accelerate, decelerate, and steer on its own — under very specific conditions, including initiation speed and weather. While it’s a step up in terms of driving automation, for safety, a human driver is still required to supervise constantly, including steering, braking, or accelerating.

ACC + GPS or Traffic Sign Recognition

Some ACC systems offer advanced traffic sign recognition , while others utilize GPS speed limit data. These optional ACC features help to combat the use of ACC technology to speed.

4 Examples of Adaptive Cruise Control

There are many different flavors of ACC. Names, tech, and bundled features make the automotive landscape — dotted with endless features, diverse names, and function variations — a bit tricky to navigate. To help you recognize ACC features, here are four automaker examples.

Ford Adaptive Cruise Control

Ford is one example of an automaker with adaptive cruise control. Here’s how Ford’s describes its system and capabilities:

“Available on select Ford vehicles is a series of Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) features employing advanced radar and camera technology. ACC lets you set a cruising speed and distance from the vehicle ahead of you. When it slows down, you automatically do too; when traffic picks back up, you resume your preset speed and distance. Then comes ACC with Stop-and-Go, which enables you to come to a complete stop when the vehicle ahead stops. Now add Lane Centering, which scans the lane markings to help you stay in your lane if the system detects you’re drifting out of it. And that’s not all. Now there’s Intelligent Adaptive Cruise Control, which includes all of these features plus new Speed Sign Recognition that can automatically adjust the set speed of your vehicle to the posted speed limit.”

Honda Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) with Low-Speed Follow

In the Honda Sensing ADAS package, the automaker offers ACC on many 2021 models with what it calls Low Speed Follow. Here’s how Honda describes it :

“Cruising on the open highway has never been easier! Honda’s Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) with Low-Speed Follow lets you set your cruise speed and interval behind a vehicle detected ahead, and then maintains that interval by braking your vehicle or applying the throttle.  And the Low-Speed Follow function can bring your vehicle to a complete stop when a vehicle detected ahead slows to a stop, and it lets you resume operation by pressing a button or the accelerator.”

Hyundai Smart Cruise control (SCC) with Stop & Go

Hyundai offers adaptive cruise control, including on the Santa Fe. Here’s how the automaker describes it :

“While traveling at a speed set by you, it uses radar to maintain a safe distance from the car ahead. When the system slows the vehicle to a stop, it will reactivate if the vehicle in front moves within 3 seconds.”

Hyundai also offers Highway Driving Assist that works together with Smart Cruise Control. Here’s how Hyundai describes this feature :

“Your “co-pilot” for highway driving, when actively engaged with Smart Cruise Control or Lane Following Assist, this smart convenience automatically helps keep you centered in your lane and traveling at a safe distance behind the car ahead. Not only that, it also can keep you driving at the right speeds, automatically setting your pace based on GPS and highway data.”

Subaru EyeSight Adaptive Cruise Control

As part of Subaru’s Eyesight Driver Assist Technology Package, ACC is standard on many of the brand’s 2021 models and optional on the rest. It uses dual forward-facing color cameras mounted near the rearview mirror. Here’s how Subaru describes its ACC system in a promotional video :

“With adaptive cruise control, eyesight can help you stay with the flow of traffic. When you set cruise control, you can select from up to four present following distances. EyeSight watches ahead and if it detects traffic is slowing, adaptive cruise control adjusts your speed accordingly to keep your selected distance. Once traffic starts moving faster, it can automatically accelerate back up to your set speed. It can even work in stop-and-go traffic.

For some, it’s less worry about adjusting cruise control. For others, it’s like having an extra set of eyes on the road.”

Adaptive Cruise Control Limitations

Drivers should know that they are responsible for what happens when they are behind the wheel. Every company makes sure to include an asterisk and notice that drivers are still needing to be actively engaged in driving. Some drivers are using ACC to speed . A study of 40 drivers by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) found that they were more likely to speed when equipped with ACC.

ACC works well in clear day and night driving, and in light weather. However, if there is fog, heavy rain, or snow, it won’t work. Additionally, if dirt, snow, or ice are on the sensors, they won’t work. ACC also has trouble on winding roads.

With or without ACC, it’s important to always leave more space during poor driving conditions, including inclement weather.

Adaptive Cruise Control Calibration

ACC is one of the most common ADAS features in vehicles today. Like other ADAS systems, ACC needs to have sensors recalibrated after a collision and many vehicle services like windshield replacement . ADAS calibration keeps ACC systems working properly.

What is adaptive cruise control calibration?

Adaptive Cruise Control calibration takes place when the camera, lidar, and radar sensors that inform your vehicle’s actions are re-aligned to improve or re-establish sensor accuracy.

Getting a car calibrated takes drivers knowing about it and recognizing the warning signs.

ACC Calibration Warnings for Drivers

For drivers, the biggest sign that you need a car calibration is a recent collision. Other circumstances that necessitate Adaptive Cruise Control calibration include any time you repair or replace something nearby the location of a sensor. Another sign would be an overly sensitive ACC system, even when you have changed the settings (where possible). Here are some related warning messages that may signal it’s time to get an ADAS calibration:

  • Adaptive cruise control sensor blocked
  • Adaptive cruise control failure
  • Adaptive cruise control temporarily unavailable

ADAS Calibration for Auto Shops

When a car comes into the shop, techs need to know when to order or perform ADAS calibrations . They also need to understand their importance. If calibrated incorrectly, ACC systems may have following distance settings that drivers aren’t used to. They can also make the systems overly sensitive, or not sensitive enough.

Every new model year brings more and more ADAS-equipped vehicles to the streets. Cars need to be calibrated after collisions, and any repairs that may affect sensor alignment. If you want to capitalize on this impending influx of needed calibrations, Car ADAS Solutions can help. We are at the forefront of the ADAS calibration services industry. We provide turnkey ADAS calibration solutions with framework, specialty software, training, and support, built-in. Contact Car ADAS Solutions today !

Additional ACC Resources:

  • Cars with Adaptive Cruise Control – Car and Driver
  • 10 Best Cars with Adaptive Cruise Control – TrueCar
  • Adaptive Cruise Control – MyCarDoesWhat.org

Adaptive Cruise Control FAQs

What is Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) and how does it differ from regular cruise control?

Adaptive Cruise Control is an advanced driver assistance feature that automatically adjusts your vehicle’s speed to maintain a safe distance from the vehicle in front. Unlike traditional cruise control that maintains a constant speed, ACC can speed up or slow down based on the flow of traffic.

ACC uses a combination of radar, cameras, and various other sensors to monitor the distance to the vehicle ahead and its relative speed. This data is processed by the car’s computer systems to adjust the throttle and apply brakes if necessary, ensuring a safe following distance.

Can Adaptive Cruise Control bring my car to a complete stop?

Yes, many modern Adaptive Cruise Control systems come with stop-and-go technology that can bring your vehicle to a complete stop and then resume driving when traffic starts moving again.

Is Adaptive Cruise Control safe to use in all driving conditions?

While ACC is designed to increase safety and convenience, it is most effective in steady traffic conditions on highways or well-marked roads. It is not recommended for use in city driving, in adverse weather conditions, or on roads with poor lane markings as these factors can reduce the system’s effectiveness.

Will Adaptive Cruise Control work with any vehicle ahead of me?

Adaptive Cruise Control is generally designed to recognize and respond to most passenger vehicles and trucks. However, it may not detect objects small vehicles like motorcycles and bikes, or pedestrians. This is why it’s best to avoid using in dense cities.

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Adaptive cruise control (ACC) is similar to standard cruise control in that it maintains a driver's preset speed once engaged. But unlike basic cruise control, ACC also automatically adjusts a car's speed based on traffic conditions.

For example, if the car in front of you slows, the system will automatically engage the car’s brakes to slow your speed and maintain a safe distance between you and the car ahead. Once the car in front of you speeds up, the system will resume the set speed.

While not federally mandated, most new cars come with ACC technology.

ACC is an advanced-driver assistance system, or ADAS. ADAS use in-vehicle technological features to help increase safety while driving. Other ADAS technologies include antilock brakes, lane departure warning and forward collision warning, among others. Some ADAS technologies are paired together in some newer vehicles, but this isn't always the case.

» MORE: Car safety features: What you need to know

How does adaptive cruise control work?

ACC systems use cameras, sensors and radar technology — or a combination of the three — to monitor the distance between your car and the car in front of you. This technology also automatically accelerates or slows your car, based on your settings and the speed limit.

You can set your speed and following distance, or how much space you want between the car in front of you and your car, with controls typically located on the steering wheel. ACC systems automatically keep your car at the preset speed and distance unless traffic ahead slows or you brake. You can reset your speed and distance at any time while driving.

What to know about adaptive cruise control

Adaptive cruise control systems are also often referred to as active cruise control, dynamic cruise control, radar cruise control and intelligent cruise control, among other names. And like its names, the specifics of how the system functions can also vary between vehicle makes and models.

For example, most ACC systems can bring your car to a complete stop if traffic around you stops, then accelerate once traffic picks up again. Other systems, however, don't have this capability or may not work below certain speeds.

Some ACC systems can anticipate curves and adjust a car’s speed when it's approaching a curve. However, some ACC systems may not be able to anticipate traffic on curving roads as well as they would on straight ones, and therefore may not be able to adjust a car’s speed accordingly.

Like similar advanced safety features that use cameras and sensors, ACC functionality can be affected by weather conditions like rain or snow, which means that drivers should remain vigilant even when the system is activated.

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Cruise Control Distance (CCD) Sensors measure the distance to the leading vehicle. This information drives the adaptive cruise control system and emergency braking system. A key component of a vehicle's Advanced Driver Assistance System (ADAS), the sensors are located behind a vehicle’s front grille opening area.

Cruise Control Distance Sensor (CCD10), part of the Advanced Driver Assistance System (ADAS), from Standard Motor Products

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CCD Sensors can be damaged in frontal collisions, even if the impact is minor.

Standard ® CCD Sensors are designed and manufactured to stringent quality standards to match the original and deliver precision performance. Easy plug-and-play installation may require some initial calibration.

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Here's How ABS Actually Works In Your Car

  • ABS is a safety feature in cars that prevents wheel lock-up during braking, maintaining steering control.
  • It has evolved from its aviation origins, becoming a standard feature in most vehicles, enhancing driving stability and control.
  • ABS uses sensors to monitor wheel speed and control braking pressure, enabling a safety net for drivers.

Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) is a crucial safety feature in modern cars , designed to prevent wheel lock-up during braking and maintain steering control. Throughout this article we delve into the intricacies of ABS, explaining its fundamental principles and operational mechanisms. By the end of this article, you'll have a clear understanding of what ABS is, how it uses sensors to activate, the numerous benefits it offers, and its role in enhancing driver assistance technologies.

We'll start by defining ABS and providing a brief history of its development. Originally introduced in the late 1970s, ABS was initially used in high-end luxury cars and later became standard in most vehicles due to its significant safety advantages. Over the decades, ABS technology has evolved, becoming more sophisticated and reliable. Today, it is an integral part of vehicle safety systems , designed not only to prevent skidding but also to enhance overall driving stability and control. The discussion will then move on to how ABS uses sensors to monitor wheel speed and control braking pressure, highlighting its technological advancements.

In order to give you the most up-to-date and accurate information possible, the data used to compile this article was sourced from various manufacturer websites and other authoritative sources, including J.D. Power.

What Is ABS?

In its simplest form, ABS is a safety feature found in modern vehicles designed to prevent the wheels from locking up during braking. This allows the driver to maintain steering control, which can be crucial in emergency situations. ABS works by automatically modulating the brake pressure on each wheel, ensuring that they maintain optimal traction on the road surface.

Originally introduced in the late 1960s, ABS has become a standard safety feature in most vehicles today. The system typically consists of sensors, valves, a pump, and a controller. The sensors monitor the speed of each wheel, while the controller interprets these signals to determine if a wheel is about to lock up. If it detects a lock-up, the controller reduces the brake pressure on that wheel, allowing it to continue rotating and maintain traction.

Originally Invented For Aircraft In The 1920s

ABS technology has its roots in aviation, where it was first developed in the 1920s to help aircraft maintain control during landing. Aircraft require a system to prevent its wheels from skidding on the runway, which could lead to dangerous situations. This early version of ABS used a mechanical system to modulate brake pressure and prevent skidding.

The concept proved so effective that it eventually found its way into automotive applications. By the 1950s and 1960s, several attempts were made to adapt ABS for use in cars. These early systems were often cumbersome and expensive, but they laid the groundwork for the more refined and efficient systems we see in vehicles today.

The Ford Zodiac Introduced ABS To Cars

In the 1960s, a fully mechanical ABS system saw limited use in automobiles like the Ferguson P99 racing car, the Jensen FF, and the experimental all-wheel drive Ford Zodiac. However, this early system was expensive and unreliable, leading to its eventual discontinuation. Despite these setbacks, these early attempts highlighted the potential of ABS to improve vehicle safety and control, setting the stage for future advancements.

The first fully electronic anti-lock braking system was developed in the late 1960s for the Concorde aircraft, marking a significant technological leap. The modern ABS system, as we know it today, was invented in 1971 by Mario Palazzetti at the Fiat Research Center. Known as 'Mister ABS,' Palazzetti developed a system called Antiskid. The technology was later patented and sold to Bosch, a leader in vehicle technology development , who named it ABS. This innovation paved the way for ABS to become a standard feature in nearly every car, offering enhanced safety and control for drivers worldwide.

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ABS Uses Sensors To Activate

An Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) relies on sensors to monitor wheel speed and detect any signs of wheel lock-up during braking. These sensors are typically located on each wheel or in the differential, providing real-time data to the ABS controller. When the controller detects that a wheel is decelerating too rapidly, indicating a potential lock-up, it modulates the brake pressure to that wheel, allowing it to maintain traction and continue rotating. This process happens rapidly, often several times per second, which is when you feel the brake pedal “pulsing” on your foot.

Different ABS Sensors And Devices

ABS systems use various types of sensors and devices to monitor wheel speed and control braking pressure. The most common sensors are wheel speed sensors, which measure the speed of each wheel individually. These sensors can be either magnetic or inductive, and they send signals to the ABS controller to determine if any wheel is about to lock up.

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In addition to wheel speed sensors, some ABS systems may include additional sensors such as brake pressure sensors and accelerometers. These devices provide further data to the ABS controller, helping it to make more accurate adjustments to the braking pressure. The combination of these sensors and devices allows the ABS system to respond promptly and precisely to prevent wheel lock-up and maintain vehicle stability.

Hydraulic Vs. Electric ABS

There are two main types of ABS: hydraulic and electric. Hydraulic ABS systems use a hydraulic modulator to control brake pressure. This modulator consists of valves and pumps that adjust the brake fluid pressure based on signals from the ABS controller. Hydraulic ABS systems are known for their robustness and reliability, making them a popular choice in many vehicles.

Electric ABS systems, on the other hand, use electronic actuators to modulate brake pressure. These systems are typically lighter and more compact than hydraulic systems, offering improved response times and efficiency. Electric ABS is often found in modern vehicles , where weight reduction and space efficiency are important considerations. Both hydraulic and electric ABS systems provide the same fundamental benefits of preventing wheel lock-up and maintaining steering control, but they achieve this through different mechanisms.

The Evolution Of Cruise Control And How It Works Today

Cruise control is one of the most useful safety and convenience features in modern cars, here is its history and how it works.

What Are The Benefits Of ABS?

Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) offers numerous benefits that significantly enhance vehicle safety and driver control. One of the primary advantages is its ability to prevent wheel lock-up during emergency braking, allowing the driver to maintain steering control. This can be crucial in avoiding obstacles and preventing accidents, especially on slippery or uneven road surfaces. Additionally, ABS can reduce stopping distances under certain conditions, further contributing to overall road safety.

Once A Luxury, Now A Requirement

ABS was once considered a luxury feature available only in high-end vehicles. However, as its safety benefits became more evident, regulatory bodies around the world began to mandate its inclusion in all new vehicles. For example, in the European Union, ABS became a mandatory feature for all new cars starting in 2004. This shift from a luxury to a requirement shows the critical role that ABS plays in modern vehicle safety, ensuring that all drivers have access to this life-saving technology, regardless of the vehicle's make or model.​​​​​​​

Race Cars Without ABS

Interestingly, not all high-performance race cars use ABS. In professional racing, such as Formula 1, the absence of ABS allows drivers to have more direct control over braking, relying on their skill to manage brake pressure and avoid wheel lock-up. For example, GT3 cars often do not utilize ABS , demanding that drivers possess exceptional braking technique and precision. The choice to exclude ABS in certain race cars highlights the different requirements and skills needed in racing compared to everyday driving, where ABS provides a critical safety net for the average driver.

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How ABS Helps Driver Assistance Technology

ABS plays a foundational role in the development of advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS). By providing precise control over braking pressure and preventing wheel lock-up, ABS ensures that vehicles maintain stability. This capability is critical for the functioning of various ADAS features, such as electronic stability control (ESC), traction control systems (TCS), and collision avoidance systems. These systems rely on the real-time data and responsive braking modulation that ABS provides, enhancing overall vehicle safety.​​​​​​​

First Development Into Advanced Driver Systems

The integration of ABS into vehicles marked the first significant step towards advanced driver assistance systems. Initially designed to prevent wheel lock-up and maintain control during braking, ABS's success demonstrated the potential for more sophisticated safety technologies. This led to the development of electronic stability control (ESC), which uses ABS sensors and components to detect and reduce skidding. ESC automatically applies braking to individual wheels and works in conjunction with Traction Control to adjust engine power and help drivers maintain control during sharp turns or slippery conditions.​​​​​​​

ABS Evolved Into Emergency Automatic Braking

One of the most significant advancements stemming from ABS technology is the development of emergency automatic braking (EAB). EAB systems build upon the principles of ABS, using similar sensors and control mechanisms to detect imminent collisions and automatically apply the brakes. For example, many modern vehicles, such as the Subaru Outback , are equipped with EAB systems that can prevent accidents by applying the brakes if the driver fails to react on time. This evolution from ABS to EAB highlights how initial innovations in braking technology have led to lifesaving advancements in vehicle safety, providing an extra layer of protection for drivers and passengers alike.

Here's How ABS Actually Works In Your Car

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  • Electrostal History and Art Museum

You can spend time exploring the galleries in Electrostal History and Art Museum in Elektrostal. Take in the museums while you're in the area.

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  • Places of interest
  • Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center
  • Central Museum of the Air Forces at Monino
  • Peter the Great Military Academy
  • Bykovo Manor
  • Balashikha Arena
  • Malenky Puppet Theater
  • Balashikha Museum of History and Local Lore
  • Pekhorka Park
  • Orekhovo Zuevsky City Exhibition Hall
  • Ramenskii History and Art Museum
  • Noginsk Museum and Exhibition Center
  • Saturn Stadium

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  1. How Cruise Control Systems Work

    The cruise control system controls the speed of the car by adjusting the throttle position, so it needs sensors to tell it the speed and throttle position. It also needs to monitor the controls so it can tell what the desired speed is and when to disengage.

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  3. Cruise Control Explained: How It Works, And When You Should Use It

    For many drivers at present, the automatic functions of their cars are limited to the likes of beeping sensors, flashing displays, and features like cruise control.

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    A typical cruise-control system consists of several components working together. You've got the vehicle speed sensor, which detects how fast you're going. Then there's the control module, the brain of the system that keeps the vehicle at the desired speed. The actuator adjusts the throttle to control the speed, while the user interface allows you to set and modify the cruise control ...

  7. How Does Cruise Control Work?

    Adaptive cruise control relies on your car's sensors to decide the appropriate speed, and these sensors can get blocked in bad weather. Snow, mud, rain, and other natural hazards can get in the way of your car's sensors and make the adaptive cruise control less reliable.

  8. How to Use Cruise Control Safely

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  9. What is adaptive cruise control, and how does it work?

    The driver sets the maximum speed -- just as with cruise control -- then a radar sensor watches for traffic ahead, locks on to the car in a lane, and instructs the car to stay 2, 3, or 4 seconds ...

  10. Cars with Adaptive Cruise Control: Everything You Need to Know

    Cars with adaptive cruise control used to be considered a luxury only featured in state-of-the-art vehicles. Still, with technological advancements, adaptive cruise control is now a common feature ...

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    Adaptive cruise control is what makes semi-autonomous driving possible. In general, a car with ACC incorporates some combination of radar sensors, lasers, and cameras to identify other vehicles or ...

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    Find out about adaptive cruise control, what it is, how it works and more. Also learn the history because a form of it has been in existence since the 1950s.

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    The adaptive cruise control (ACC) helps to adapt the speed in heavy traffic to the flow to keep a safe distance to the preceding vehicle.

  15. Adaptive Cruise Control

    Adaptive cruise control (ACC) is an enhancement of conventional cruise control. ACC automatically adjusts the speed of your car to match the speed of the car in front of you. If the car ahead slows down, ACC can automatically match it. Once the car ahead moves out of your lane or accelerates beyond your car's set speed, your ACC allows your ...

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    We have the best Cruise Control Distance Sensor for the right price. Buy online for free next day delivery or same day pickup at a store near you.

  17. What Is Adaptive Cruise Control?

    Adaptive cruise control is an advanced safety feature that helps drivers maintain a safe following distance and speed. Here's how it works.

  18. Cruise Control Distance Sensors

    Standard Cruise Control Distance Sensors, part of a vehicle's ADAS, sit behind a vehicle's front grille and help a vehicle keep a safe distance.

  19. How Does The Cruise Control System In Cars Work?

    The cruise control system controls the speed of your car the same way you do - by adjusting the throttle (accelerator) position. However, cruise control engages the throttle valve by a cable connected to an actuator, rather than by pressing a pedal. The throttle valve controls the power and speed of the engine by limiting how much air it ...

  20. Cruise Control Sensor

    Shop for the best Cruise Control Sensor for your vehicle, and you can place your order online and pick up for free at your local O'Reilly Auto Parts.

  21. Here's How ABS Actually Works In Your Car

    ABS uses sensors to monitor wheel speed and control braking pressure, enabling a safety net for drivers. ... feature in nearly every car, offering enhanced safety and control for drivers worldwide ...

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