Car Corner
Speed Control - The Next Step After Cruise Control

June 1, 2008
By Scott Lewis

A couple of months back I bought a new (to me) car, and purchased a radar detector. We were looking at a couple of models from Escort. One model is GPS equipped. The GPS model knows where it is and you can tell it that it is receiving a false alarm. The combination of knowing where it is when you tell it about a false alarm means it learns about them and won't bother you with them in the future. Kind of cool.

My son has a better idea. My son came up with an idea for a device based entirely on existing technology. I am calling it Speed Control. It is an advanced form of cruise control. With cruise control you set the speed you want the car to go and Bob's your uncle and you travel at that speed.

Advanced cruise control units will use radar to detect cars in front of you so that the car can adjust its speed to prevent hitting other cars. This would be part of our Speed Control system as well, but is not what makes up our Speed Control system.

To get to Speed Control we need to look at a few other pieces of technology and incorporate them into cruise control. The next piece of technology is GPS. A GPS device knows where you are. Some GPS device can tell you the price of gasoline near your location. All that is really needed is a means to get the information entered so that the GPS device gets up to date information. For gas prices the information must be updated regularly and frequently. This usually requires some kind of online assistance. Our system will requires updates, but probably not that often. Monthly or yearly updates should be enough.

Here's where my son's idea actually kicks into gear. If they can get gas prices into a GPS device, why not get speed limits into a GPS device. Speed limits rarely change (except for construction areas and the rare time the government gets it right and raises a speed limit), so keeping the GPS database up to date should be easy. Add a new road... add its speed limit. Simple.

Now we tie all this together and you have a car that can set its speed automatically by the speed limit stored in the GPS device. It can use radar to determine if cars are going slower than the speed limit in front of the car and slow down accordingly. We have Speed Control.

All you have to do is set your destination and steer the car. Accelerating and braking are all done for you. Of course to be complete we have to enter traffic lights so the Speed Control equipped car knows when to stop. This is my idea, and getting the car to know it needs to stop at a read light or stop sign might be the hardest part. But for freeway use my son's device is ready to work right now. There is no reason we couldn't tie GPS and Adaptive Cruise Control together to have Speed Control. Never get a ticket again.

If any of you have read any of my articles you should be scratching your head the same as I did. What kind of son did I raise that thinks there is no reason to go over the speed limit? This entire topic started when my son asked me why I needed a radar detector. I told him so I know where the police are, and he told me about never needing to exceed the speed limit. Then he told me they should just put speed limits into GPS devices (like the radar detector I as looking at) so you don't even have to worry about how have fast you are going.

If you follow this to the next logical step you start a path toward true auto pilot. The car should just take you there. Like in that Arnold Schwarzenegger movie "The 6th Day." In the movie there is a scene where Arnold and his partner are "driving" to work. The car is driving itself. When they get to their destination the car asks the driver to take control of the car to park. This is what my son wants, but without the parking. He thinks the car should do it all.

Speed Control is the first next step to a car that drives itself.


Another invention you read about here first. This time from the mind of my son. His intelligence is in the right place... but that wacky notion about following the speed limit blindly... yikes! Where did he get that. Not from me.