People “pet” the gas pedal when they drive so they never travel at a constant speed. This constant speeding up and slowing down wastes gas, and with 140+ billion gallons used each year by the US alone, millions of those gallons can be saved by using cruise control and traveling at a constant speed. Unfortunately, if you’re using cruise control and the person in front of you isn’t you’re constantly having to slow down or speed up because of their varying speed. And matching the cruise control speed of someone in front of you isn’t easy either. Various car companies are already working to solve this specifically using cruise control technology. But I think a lot of them over complicate and over design their solutions by requiring expensive technology and touch screen interfaces. So here’s something a little more simple:
Equip cars with “Chained Cruise Control” (we’ll call it C3 for short).
How it works:
- Cars with C3 technology have a wireless sensor in the front and back bumpers, as well as a camera in the front, and a blue light on the back windshield (turned off when cruise control is off).
- When a car equipped with C3 turns on its cruise control, the sensor in the back bumper transmits a signal revealing the car’s traveling speed and a unique ID assigned to that car. A Blue light on the back windshield also turns on to let drivers know they can “link up” to its cruise control speed.
- If another following car in the same lane has C3 equipped, it’s front bumper will pick up the broadcast information of the car in front, make a “ding” noise & flash the cruise control button to let its driver know they can synchronize cruise control speeds.
- If the driver agrees and turns on their cruise control their car will match the speed of the car in front by keeping a safe and constant distance from it (calculated by the sensors in the bumpers).
- Once matched, it will turn on its blue light on the back windshield. Allow other cars following to link up to it, and so on and so on.
- So you can have a chain of hundreds of cars all traveling at the same speed.
- The unique IDs of all linked vehicles is transmitted throughout the chain so every car know’s who is in front of who.
- This is not only useful as a fail-safe, but also, in case 1 car in the chain leaves to get off the highway, the cars behind it can move forward and re-link the chain automatically.
- In the event that a car without C3 merges into the same lane as a group of linked cars, they will try to make a compromise in speed. The linked cars will try to keep the same speed as they did before still attached to the linked cars in front, but with more space to accommodate the vehicle separating the chain. Using a sensor + camera the first car of the chain left behind will try to match the speed of the car that has separated the chain. If it cannot, the chain will split into 2, with the front chain continuing on and the back chain calculating a new lower speed so it can safely keep a distance from the car in front of the chain.
- If a slower vehicle merges into the lane in front of a chain of linked C3 cars, the camera + sensor on the first car of a linked chain will see the slower vehicle and decelerate to try to match it’s speed while broadcasting it’s new speed to the vehicles following it, allowing the entire chain to slowly decelerate simultaneously.
- If a single car with C3 has it’s cruise control on it will use the sensor + camera in front to try and keep a safe and constant distance from cars in front of it, regardless of weather they have C3 technology equipped or not.
As usual I don’t have the funds or the technical expertise to draw out, develop, or patent this and I’m 100% positive other companies like Mercedes (with its automatic braking) or Google (with its driverless vehicles) or Dewetron (with it’s own version of cruise control) are already working on something like this. So please feel free to borrow the idea.
Car photo by Benson Kua.