Tag Archives: cruise control

Adaptive cruise control

I live in Nottingham but work just outside Coventry. It’s a great job but the daily drive up and down the motorways are a complete pain in the rectum.

The trauma of the journey is much reduced due to the availability of a few colleagues that live close enough for me to car share with. I can’t tell you how much of a relief it is to not have to drive every day. The journey isn’t that long and arduous, or at least not as long as some poor sods have to put up with, but it really helps to be able to share the experience with others.

The other thing that really helps is cruise control. I like to get on the motorway, find a decent speed and switch it on. The car sorts itself out, generally, and all I’ve got to do is point it in the right direction. The only problem with the cruise control in my car (and most other people’s cars too) is that it doesn’t pay the slightest attention to how everyone else is driving around you.

For instance, I’m driving at one speed but the guy in front might be driving at about 0.05 miles an hour slower than me. Eventually I’m going to have to overtake but it’s going to be a tortuous manoever if I leave it on cruise control; I’m much better off giving the car a burst of juice to get past him. If the motorway is even remotely busy there are no end of drivers all driving at different, inconsistent speeds, and it really buggers up my desire to stay on cruise control.

Wouldn’t it be great if your car could adapt its speed to the vehicles around it? Well, apparently some very clever people in the good ole’ US of A have developed just such a thing:

Heading south on the New Jersey Turnpike, Ford Motor Company engineer Jerry Engelman swings his 2010 Taurus into the left lane to pass a semi. The Taurus hesitates, slowing down, and then Engelman adjusts his heading. The car takes off. “Larry,” he calls to his colleague in the back seat, “write that down!”

Engelman is driving, but just barely. The Taurus has a radar-based adaptive cruise-control system that lets him set a top speed and then simply steer while the car adjusts its velocity according to traffic. He’s been weaving and changing lanes, doing between 45 and 70 mph—and hasn’t touched a pedal in an hour.

Sounds fabulous to me. Do you think they could fit that in our Seat Leon by the weekend please?