September 28, 2016 at 12:11 PM
Most of us are aware of cruise control, a feature in many cars that allows the driver to set a preferred driving speed and leave the car to maintain that speed using the brake and accelerator without the pedals being pressed. However, anyone who has used cruise control also knows the irritation of having to cancel and reset it every time traffic conditions change. This is where Autonomous Cruise Control becomes invaluable, with its added ability to maintain a constant distance behind traffic ahead.
You may have heard of Autonomous Cruise Control without even realising it. Different car manufacturers use different names for these systems, including Adaptive Cruise Control and Radar Cruise Control. Autonomous Cruise Control (ACC) is essentially a cruise control system which uses radar or laser technology to scan the road ahead and keep a safe distance behind other cars. Once the preserve of only the most exclusive and expensive luxury cars, Autonomous Cruise Control systems are now finding their way into more models, including the family car and compact executive sectors. It is swiftly becoming part of the package of safety options in many models.
ACC operates in a similar way to ordinary cruise control with an added setting. The driver sets their preferred speed, but also the distance they want to keep apart from traffic ahead. The system then monitors traffic conditions and uses the accelerator and brake to maintain a safe distance. It can react to changing circumstances including cars pulling into your lane or traffic slowing ahead, and can even bring you safely to a complete stop if traffic comes to a standstill. As with ordinary cruise control, it will maintain the setting unless you cancel it or touch the brake or accelerator.
ACC adds an important safety net to your journey, allowing you to remain a safe distance from other traffic and reducing your risk of being involved in a collision. Not only this, but it can also improve your fuel economy by avoiding harsh braking and acceleration in changing traffic conditions, and avoids unnecessary wear and tear to your brakes, gearbox and clutch. When used properly, ACC can take some of the stress out of long journeys while improving safety.
It is important to remember that while ACC is a useful driving aid, it does not become an "Autopilot" system that avoids the need for input from the driver. The driver is still required to hold the steering wheel, steer the car, remain alert and concentrate on the journey. Although it is becoming more common and available on a greater selection of models, ACC remains an expensive option to specify on a brand new car and does not always pay for itself by adding to the car's value at resale. However, this is excellent news for savvy used car buyers, who can find a useful safety tool without paying a fortune for it.