How Cruise Control Works

How Cruise Control works is a really good question. But before understanding how Cruise Control Works, it is highly imperative to understand what Cruise Control really is. Cruise Control is a term that has become popular in recent times. Cruise Control, which earlier used to be the Monopoly of only the luxurious cars have now become more accessible for the top end models of the affordable car segments as well. It has even become a purchasing criterion for many people to opt for the top end models against the basic models.  With Cruise Control nowadays making a say in the type of car that you would want to buy, it is necessary to know as to what this technology actually means and what all are its capabilities. Additionally, it is also one of those techniques that are being widely employed in the creation of Self-Driving Cars.

The Cruise Control is a technology that assists the driver in maintaining the speed of the car. Once Cruise Control is turned On, the car drives constantly in the speed set by the driver. This feature is particularly useful on long trips where you have a lot of distance cover, on roads that are straight and less curvy.  This becomes really comfortable for the driver to drive long distances without much effort. All you have to do is control the Steering. The acceleration is kept uniform and taken control of. With the driver being in charge of the Steering alone, you are free from Ankles Aches and Feet Strains since you don’t actually have to do anything with your legs once the Cruise Control is activated.

The Cruise Control maintains the speed similar to how drivers do – by maintaining the position of the accelerator, but it does so by controlling the engine by controlling the amount of air that flows into the engine by using an Actuator, as an alternative to a Driver’s action of using the Peddle to control the acceleration of the car.

Now, the question that would arise in your mind would be, if the process involved in how Cruise Control works is by keeping a constant value of the acceleration, what would happen if the Vehicle upfront decreases or increases its speed. This is where the idea of Adaptive Cruise Control Kicks in.

Adaptive Cruise Control is capable of locking on to the car in the front, analyzing its speed and then accordingly increase or decrease the acceleration based on the same. This also provides additional safety and confidence in using the Cruise Control facility, knowing that even if the vehicle in front of you increases or decreases its speed, your car can accordingly speed up or slow down. This is also useful while driving in high traffic areas.

In most of the Luxury Cars, the Cruise Control can take control of the Steering as well. For eg, the Mercedes s500 comes with an Adaptive Cruise Control Technology known as the Distronic Plus. When in heavy traffic, it can lock on to the car in front you and accordingly adjust its speed, including the steering.  This is achieved with help of Radars and Sensors placed at different points in the front of the car.

A typical Cruise Control Unit comes with the following Control Buttons –

  • Acc/Res
  • Cruise On/Off
  • Coast/Set

There might be slight changes in the nomenclature of these Control Buttons from Brand to Brand, but the functionalities more or less remain the same.

The On/Off Buttons are pretty intuitive. They are meant for turning the Cruise Control On/ Off. It can also be turned off, once you hit the brake pedal in case of emergencies. The Acc/Res is used to set the acceleration of the car. Tapping each of buttons increases or decreases the acceleration of the car by a specific unit. The Coast button can be used to Decelerate the car. In addition to these Control Buttons, the Cruise Control gets turned off once the driver sets in and presses either the Clutch or the Break.

Though the Cruise Control Technology provides Driver Assistance in making Driving a seamlessly smooth experience, it should not be confused as an alternative to a driver. Even with the Adaptive Cruise Control, it is very much important to note that you should never take your hands off the steering, though you can.

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