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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