What is Cruise Control?


Cruise control in a car is a self-regulating system that precisely sustains the driver-set speed, functioning autonomously without external input. Restricting the vehicle’s speed to the designated limit has become a prevalent feature in contemporary automobiles, even available in the higher-end versions of several economical hatchbacks and sedans.

How does the Cruise Control System Work?

It emulates driver inputs to regulate speed, operating independently of the accelerator pedal. Older versions utilized a cable mechanism to manage the throttle valve, adjusting speed via an actuator controlled by the cable. The throttle valve governs engine power and speed, automatically adapting its position based on the driver’s chosen speed.

Modern cruise control relies entirely on electronic components, replacing the cable setup with sensors linked to an Electronic Control Unit (ECU) that communicates with the throttle. The ECU calculates and engages the throttle position wirelessly upon speed setting.

This system persistently upholds the driver’s designated speed, accommodating varied road conditions. For instance, when encountering an incline, the cruise control adjusts the throttle to maintain the set speed.

Also Read: What is Regenerative Braking?

What are the Advantages of Cruise Control System?

Here are some of its advantages:

1. Reduces driver fatigue: By maintaining a constant speed without requiring constant use of the accelerator pedal, cruise control allows drivers to relax and rest their right foot. This feature is particularly beneficial during long highway drives that demand consistent speeds.

2. Improves fuel economy: Operating at a consistent speed prevents engine stress and reduces fuel consumption. This is because the engine can maintain a steady RPM (Revolutions Per Minute) without the need for frequent changes in operation intensity.

3. Facilitates adherence to speed limits: On expansive highways, it’s easy to unintentionally surpass the speed limit. Cruise control helps by enabling the driver to set a maximum speed, preventing the vehicle from exceeding the predetermined limit.

4. Adjusts speed effortlessly: When cruise control is active, drivers can conveniently modify their speed using dedicated buttons, eliminating the need to utilize the accelerator or brake pedals. However, it’s crucial to become familiar with these controls in a safe environment before using them on public roads.

5. Complements automatic cars: This system is particularly effective when used in conjunction with automatic transmission vehicles, as it eliminates the need for manual gear changes. The onboard computer automatically adjusts the gears to maintain the desired speed, allowing the driver to focus solely on steering.

Also See: What are Hydraulic Disc Brakes?

What are the Disadvantages of Cruise Control System?

The system also presents certain drawbacks, which are outlined below:

1. Limited suitability on Indian roads: While it is well-suited for expansive and well-regulated highways, the unpredictable nature of Indian roads poses challenges. Disregarding traffic rules and the presence of animals on the roads make it difficult to maintain high speeds, rendering the use of cruise control challenging.

2. Impedes reaction time: Given the unpredictable conditions of Indian roads, its use can hinder the ability to react swiftly to sudden obstacles. With the foot resting on the car floor instead of the accelerator pedal, the time taken to reach the brake pedal in an emergency is extended, potentially compromising the ability to avoid collisions.

3. May induce drowsiness: Prolonged use can lead to a decrease in alertness as the vehicle maintains a constant speed. To prevent drowsiness, it is advisable to take manual control of the vehicle every 10-15 minutes when utilizing the automatic cruise feature on highways.

4. Ineffective for night driving: Due to reduced visibility, especially during nighttime, the use of cruise control becomes impractical for maintaining a constant speed, even on familiar, well-lit roads. This limitation poses safety concerns that make relying on the system during night drives inadvisable.

5. Incompatibility with manual cars: In manual vehicles, where gear shifting is manual, the full potential of the automatic cruise control system cannot be fully realized. While the system handles acceleration and deceleration, the need for manual gear shifting can be inconvenient, especially during instances requiring immediate speed adjustments.

Recommended: What is Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS)?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *