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Ford Engineers Test 'Predictive Logic' To Improve Cruise Control 112

Posted by timothy
from the clippy-is-actually-old-enough-to-drive dept.
cartechboy writes "Sometimes what we think of as 'car tech' is colored by sensational coverage of things like autonomous cars. But real engineers are working behind the scenes every day to make existing auto technologies more efficient. Take cruise control: Today, even adaptive cruise systems just throttle up when the car's speed drops and ease off when speed rises or a car gets too close. Today's cruise-control systems aren't predictive--meaning they don't plan ahead. At all. Now, engineers at Ford are adding predictive algorithms and more sophisticated powertain mapping to reduce the built-in overcompensation that ends up wasting fuel. Ford has mapped each vehicle's powertrain in much greater detail, and their prototype control systems look at grade steepness, load on the engine, and other variables every few seconds to predict what's likely coming up. Will the hill level off soon? Will the driver ask for more gas, or let up on the accelerator? Down the road, connected-vehicle and cloud-based data will build on these predictive developments--as will those autonomous vehicles you hear so much about. Think of this as a building block to the future."
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Ford Engineers Test 'Predictive Logic' To Improve Cruise Control

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  • by Ungrounded Lightning (62228) on Saturday December 21, 2013 @09:56PM (#45757467) Journal

    On my recent model F150 there's a very handy feature: "Tow/Haul" mode. It changes the transmission shift behavior so that touching the brakes makes it downshift and STAY downshifted (and doing it again downshifts another step on the many-gear-ratios transmission), while touching the accelerator lets it shift back up. This is GREAT for long downgrades in mountains, even if you're NOT towing.

    But it doesn't interact well with the cruise control. The speed control raises the throttle setting to keep you from going under the setpoint. But when you're over it just goes down to idle and lets your speed runaway. Touch the brakes to enable engine braking and the cruise control disengages. No automatic speed control for YOU on the downgrade. When the grade starts to level out the speed drops, and even before that you're back to watching the speedometer and doing manual adjustments,

    Result: On mountain roads you're constantly disengaging and re-engaging the speed control.

    They should integrate the two: When tow/haul mode is engaged, the speed control should send downshift signals to the transmission to control too-fast as well as too-slow conditions.
    When tow-haul is on the speed control should signal the transmission to downshift when necessary, to keep the speed from running away and requiring the driver to brake. (The speed control's acceleration when too-slow will handle the upshift correctly.)

    You'll still have to touch the brakes or tap-down the speed setting for curves and other locally slow zones. But then you'd just hit "resume" or tap-up the setting. Meanwhile the automation would handle the non-exceptional condition of preventing overspeed and runaway on downgrades.

Their idea of an offer you can't refuse is an offer... and you'd better not refuse.