An adaptive cruise control or Autonomous cruise control takes the concept of cruise control to a new level. This is an optional mode of cruise control that is mostly an add-on for modern vehicles over their existing cruise control system. The adaptive cruise control system modifies the current velocity of the vehicle and also calculated the distance between the front of the car to the vehicle in front of it. This allows the vehicle to automatically prevent accidents without the intervention of the driver and hence maintain proper control of the vehicle in busy highways.
As briefly mentioned before, there are several types of autonomous cruise control systems. The radar-based cruise control system uses the medium of sound to reflect off vehicles in front. The advantage of this system being it can detect cars in front even in adverse weather situations. The disadvantage of this method is it detects small plastics on the road and this would immediately make the system assume it has detected a car in front and would reduce the velocity of the vehicle.
Apart from this, there are assisting systems, multi-sensor systems and predictive systems. Assisting systems employ a radar system and hence is used to caution the driver regarding a vehicle in front. It can also sometimes apply the brake if the risk is too high.
Multi-sensory systems use a myriad of sensors which are placed in multiple locations on the car. This allows GPS navigation with several radar sensors in the vehicle that can potentially be used in a self-driving car prototype.
There are also predictive systems which think very close to human drivers. The predictive model predicts the path of the vehicle ahead and adjusts the speed of the car based on this information. It can be used to predict scenarios up to 4 seconds before they actually occur.