What is Adaptive Cruise Control?

next generation cruising


When you are in the market to buy a new car, you find yourself doing a ton of research to learn about all the options out there. Not only are you learning about the cars, but you’re also learning about all the available technological advances that come equipped in these newer models. As you come across these available features, you realize that you’re never really given a real description on what they are or how they work. This time around we’re going over the highly acclaimed ‘adaptive cruise control.’ So, let’s set the speed, and cruise on through this blog!

What is Adaptive Cruise Control?

The usual answer to describe adaptive cruise control is that it’s like traditional cruise control but smarter. What the system does is that it “sees” or “senses” cars that are ahead of you on the roadway. The system will automatically adjust the speed and distance of your vehicle in response to the vehicle ahead, and even bringing your vehicle to a complete stop, in some cases.

One thing to note is that adaptive cruise control is considered a level 1 autonomous driving aid. What that means is that the cruise control element is controlled in isolation by sensors and cameras, but you as the driver are still very much in control by setting the desired speed or desired distance between vehicle ahead. While it is a convenient feature, it’s important to note that these vehicles still require the driver to maintain undivided focus in case of emergency situations.  

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How Does it Work?

The very first thing to take away from this section of the blog is that not all adaptive cruise control systems work the same way. It is imperative to understand the difference between them when choosing between the vehicle that’s right for you. With adaptive cruise controls, manufacturers either use laser sensors, radar sensors, cameras, or a combination of these components in order to identify vehicles ahead. These components collect the information and in turn communicate with your braking and acceleration systems to help your car automatically maintain the distance you selected.

Laser sensor adaptive cruise control is one that requires a reflective surface in order to function the way it’s supposed to, and the laser needs to be exposed. The downside to this is that it may not work at full capacity if the vehicle ahead has a matte-finish or if the car is dirty. On the other hand, radar based is very popular because car manufacturers can hide the sensors behind body panels and front grilles. This in turn allows automakers to add more sensors to increase accuracy while maintaining the utmost level of vehicle styling. The last of the three is the camera-based option, which typically uses dual cameras. The software then processes the images and adjusts the speed and distance accordingly.   

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What Does it Do?

As mentioned in the previous section, not all adaptive cruise controls work the same way. So, when you’re in the market to purchase a new vehicle be sure to test the adaptive cruise control. Be sure to fully understand how each of them work instead of figuring it out on the highway after you buy it. For Example, some systems have stop-and-go capability, can bring your vehicle to a complete stop, can attempt to predict required braking situations and many more!

Conquer the Open Road


It’s critical to know the various technologies available to you when searching for the car that’s right for you. Not only is it essential to understand what adaptive cruise control is, but it’s also good to understand what every system does based on the vehicle. One last thing to be mindful of is that adaptive cruise control could be impacted by weather conditions like heavy rain, fog and snow, causing it to stop working the way it’s meant to. Plenty of studies have proven that adaptive cruise control systems greatly reduce collision with vehicles ahead. Due to this fact, it is said that you can enjoy an easy ride when activating adaptive cruise control, just remember that you need to be ready to take control at any moment’s notice since you are still very much in control.     

Bill Luke Tempe 33.3459791, -111.9689947.