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Cruise control goes adaptive

Published:Sunday | December 14, 2014 | 12:00 AMChad Bryan
Contributed A graphic illustration of adaptive cruise control being utilised.

Conventional motor vehicle technology continues

to evolve. Cruise control,

a popular motor vehicle application, has taken on a new dimension and has transformed into adaptive cruise control.

This feature, also known as active, autonomous, intelligent or radar cruise control, utilises forward-looking radar installed behind the grille of the vehicle to measure the speed of and distance from the vehicle in front of it.

Though similar to cruise control, in that it maintains the vehicle's preset speed, adaptive cruise control can automatically adjust a vehicle's speed in order to maintain an appropriate distance between vehicles in the same lane. This is done via a radar headway sensor, digital signal processor and longitudinal control.

If the vehicle in front should slow down, or if another object is detected, the system sends a signal to the vehicle's engine or braking system to slow it down. When the way is clear, the system will cause the vehicle to speed up.

Some units employ a laser system, while the Subaru version utilises an optical system based on stereoscopic cameras. Adaptive cruise control is ideal for stop-and-go traffic and rush-hour commuting with abrupt changes in speed.

A number of motor vehicle brands are equipped with the technology, including Honda, Land Rover, Audi, BMW, Porsche, Lexus and Jaguar, to name a few.