Adaptive Cruise Control is the first step toward having fully autonomous vehicles on the road. In cars that include this driver assistance feature, many have a minimum speed you have to reach in order for it to turn on. That makes it an ideal feature for rush hour traffic in a city like Omaha, Lincoln, Kansas City or Colorado Springs.
Cruise control allows you to set the exact speed you want to go. Adaptive cruise control has you set your maximum speed and how much space you want in between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of you.
A radar or sonar sensor in the front of your vehicle scans the road in front of you for other cars. When the adaptive cruise control system is active, it’s constantly scanning the lane ahead of you. It’s looking for obstacles and calculating the distance and speed of the vehicles ahead of you.
When you come up behind a vehicle that is going slower than the maximum speed you set, your vehicle will slow you down to match that slower speed. It will also keep you at the distance you set behind the other vehicle.
If that slower car moves into another lane, your vehicle will start to accelerate again. It should bring you back up to the maximum speed you set, or to the speed of the car in front of you.
Accident Avoidance Features
Most cars that have an adaptive cruise control feature also have accident avoidance features. Those features include the car being able to stop itself should it detect a front collision. Some of these systems are highly advanced. Toyota Safety Sense™ (TSS) can even detect the difference between a car and something like a cardboard box in the road. Toyota’s engineers designed the system to sense depth in what’s ahead of your vehicle. That way your car won’t come to a stop in the middle of the road because of trash and end up causing any accidents.