Adaptive cruise control

From ArticleWorld

Adaptive cruise control systems use either a laser or a radar system to automatically control a vehicles speed. This allows the vehicle to reduce its speed when it approaches a slower vehicle and resume its preset speed when the way is clear. The laser or radar system will continually monitor the distance ahead while the control unit calculates the rate of approach and slows the vehicle accordingly. The system was first offered by Mercedes-Benz under the name Distronic.


Matthew Boulton and James Watt invented the technology of speed control in 1788 to be used in locomotives. Automobiles began using speed control devices around 1910 with the introduction of a centrifugal governor. Ralph Teetor invented modern cruise control in 1945 out of frustration from being driven by his lawyer, who would speed up or slow down while he talked. In older systems the cruise control would get its signal from either the engine’s RPM or a rotating speedometer cable or drive shaft. The cruise control then maintains the vehicle speed by adjusting the throttle cable using a vacuum servomechanism or a solenoid. In newer model cars, the cruise control is integrated into the engine management system of the vehicle.

Pro’s and con’s

Cruise control is a device of convenience, as such, there are both good and bad things to be said of its use. Cruise control can be useful on long distance drives and it can even save on gas. Cruise control can also help prevent speeding tickets when set to the appropriate speed limit. On the down side, they can also make the driver susceptible to drowsiness or highway hypnosis, as there is no longer a need to concentrate on the accelerator. When used in poor weather such as rain or snow, tapping on the brake to disengage the system can often cause the driver to lose control of the vehicle.