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Automated Driving 4 min read

What is adaptive cruise control?

A car uses adaptive cruise control features to navigate a windy road.

Social distancing might be a thing of the past (thankfully), but not for cars. Meet the in-car system that helps make sure you never rear-end anyone again.

Did you know that one of the most common types of traffic incidents is rear-end collision? These usually happen when a vehicle following another fails to stop or slow down in time and hits the back of the car in front of it. 

This is where adaptive cruise control (ACC) comes in. With a unique combination of radar sensors, cameras and location technology, it helps cars maintain a safe distance from the one it is following behind, significantly reducing the possibility of rear-end collisions.

But what exactly is ACC and how does it work? 

A car travels on a mountainous road.


On the lookout

Adaptive cruise control is an advanced driver assistance system designed to automatically adjust a vehicle's speed to maintain a safe distance from those ahead. This not only reduces the chances of impact but also represents a significant shift from traditional cruise control systems that were limited to maintaining a constant speed only.

The "adaptive" part of ACC is what makes it stand out from other cruise control systems. It refers to the ability to alter the vehicle's speed in response to upcoming traffic conditions. 

By detecting changes in the speed and noticing sudden actions of the car in front, ACC can adjust the speed or even bring its vehicle to a complete halt if necessary. This makes driving not only a lot safer but also more convenient and efficient.

In short, this smart driving assistance makes sure everyone doesn't follow too closely behind each other, improving the safety of all traffic members from autonomous trucks to passenger cars.

But how does ACC work?

A man sips coffee while using the automated driving features in his car.

Sixth sense

Adaptive cruise control relies on a combination of radar sensors, cameras and location data.

Radar technology provides critical information to the vehicle's control system. It uses sensors to emit radio waves that bounce off objects in front of the vehicle. Based on this reflection, the ACC system calculates the distance, direction and relative speed of the detected objects so it can modify the vehicle's speed and behavior accordingly.

Cameras contribute with visual information, helping the system identify and track vehicles ahead. This information also provides additional data that supports accurate speed and distance adjustments.

Real-time location data allows the ACC system to adjust to changing traffic patterns and road conditions, enhancing its predictive capabilities. The integration of location technology with other sensor inputs helps ACC adapt to varying traffic conditions and road layouts with precision.

Winning back public trust in automated driving

Green credentials

Contributing to safer driving is probably the biggest advantage of adaptive cruise control. By automatically adjusting speed based on traffic conditions and the actions of the vehicle in front, it helps mitigate risk factors such as distracted driving or speeding, which are the most common causes of rear-end collisions. 

It also makes driving more efficient. Maintaining consistent speeds and avoiding unnecessary acceleration and deceleration also optimizes fuel consumption. Less fuel equals more sustainability and a step closer to a greener future on the road with fewer emissions.

Looking ahead, as adaptive cruise control systems continue evolving, technological advancements and improved location data capabilities are set to make ACC even more predictive and adaptive. This could lead to even greater safety and efficiency benefits, further cementing the role of ACC in the sustainable transportation revolution. 

Maja Stefanovic

Maja Stefanovic

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