Cruise control, as we all know, controls the speed of a vehicle so you don’t have to. It’s a useful tool on a long trip or anytime you’re going to travel at a constant speed for a period of time. Cruise control has been included on most vehicles for many years now and continues to evolve.
Cruise Control History
While there were rudimentary cruise controls on vehicles as early as 1900, the modern form of cruise control was invented by Ralph Teetor in Hagerstown, Indiana, in 1948. Teetor invented the system after he was riding in the car with his lawyer. As his lawyer was driving, he was talking and had trouble keeping a constant speed. Teetor’s system calculated ground speed by measuring a vehicle’s driveshaft rotations and used a solenoid to control the speed. A few years after Teetor’s system, M-Sgt Frank J. Riley patented a cruise control system in 1955. Riley’s system worked in a similar fashion. Although the technology had been created, and even installed on many vehicles, it wasn’t very popular for another 15 to 20 years.
Popularity of Cruise Control
Some attribute the popularity of cruise control to the oil embargo of the 1970’s, because cruise control saves gas by maintaining a car’s speed (whereas constantly accelerating and braking uses up more gas). While the oil embargo was certainly a factor, cruise control gained popularity simply because it made driving easier. In Europe, cruise control is still not as popular as it is in the United States, mainly because the US is a very large landmass, and people continuously travel across it. In other areas of the world, it’s not as important to travel such long distances, so cruise control is not as popular even today.
Modern Cruise Control Technology
Cruise control has continued to evolve as the years have gone by. Today many automotive companies are focused on adaptive cruise control. Adaptive cruise control takes the traditional cruise control system and adds computerized technology to it. The cruise control will monitor traffic conditions and adjust the vehicle’s speed to keep it a safe distance from other vehicles on the road. Sensors at the front of the vehicle can detect when the car gets too close to another vehicle.