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Watch Adaptive Cruise Control in Action



Many new vehicles have an option for Adaptive Cruise Control, Radar Guided Cruise Control or some other name. No matter the name, this smart cruise control feature offers a safer driving experience and can help drivers keep their sanity while stuck behind a car that can’t maintain the speed limit.

These systems provide two services to the driver: the vehicle knows when it is about to have a crash, and the car can automatically pace the vehicle in front of it. When an automobile enters the scanning range of the car, it determines its course and speed. If the driver is going faster than this automobile in the way, the car will slow down and match the pace of the vehicle ahead. If the vehicle ahead slows down even more, the car will slow down to match. If the vehicle speeds up, or leaves the lane, the car will then match the speed or resume the preset cruise control speed. We recently were able to sample the technology in the 2013 Lincoln MKZ.

There are several different technologies that can be used by a manufacturer to make adaptive cruise control. Some use a radar based system, and others use a laser-based system. A microprocessor on board the vehicle then determines all of the calculations needed to adjust the speed of the vehicle. Some systems will actually completely stop the car if the car in front of it stops, but others will only slow down to a certain point and require the driver to take control. Regardless of the particular idiosyncrasies of a particular system, adaptive cruise control is a great way to reduce driver stress and keep the vehicle safe.

Adaptive Cruise Control

Illustration of Adaptive Cruise Control (Courtesy of Audi)

From our own testing experience, the system worked great in a thunderstorm, where the rain made it extremely difficult to see the vehicle in front. The system warned us of the vehicle and was able to pace it safely. Also, because the system can see through the rain, if the driver in the vehicle would have performed a hard brake, the car would have warned us. Should an accident resulted, the car would have readied the brakes and applied full tension to the seat belts before the crash. That would increase our likelihood of surviving.

These systems are coming down in price and are available on a lot more vehicles. It is something definitely worth checking out to decide for yourself before buying your next automobile.

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