Porsche merges excitement with efficiency in cruise control
Autonomous driving will soon be upon us. You need just look at the strides being made with adaptive cruise control to realise that: our most recent Mercedes-Benz S-Class test car was already able to steer itself (even though it got very angry with you if you kept your hands off the steering wheel for more than a few seconds).
But Porsche has a different take on the whole adaptive cruise control movement, even though you will still have to do all the steering.
The sports car marker is working on a new system it calls InnoDrive, which aims to get the driver to his or her destination as quickly as possible, while consuming the least amount of fuel. To do this, Porsche has pulled a page out of Rolls Royce’s navigation handbook: the British marque uses gradients and corner radius data to pre-select the correct suspension and gear setting on its cars.
Porsche employs that oracle data to populate its adaptive cruise control system, so that the car will know when the gradient of the road is about to change, as well as how sharp the upcoming corner is.
The goal is to keep the car’s engine working in its brake-specific fuel consumption (BSFC) window, or where the engine is at its most efficient. This usually occurs at full throttle near the maximum torque generation point, and it is where you would want to spend the majority of you driving time.
Armed with BSFC parameters and what the road is going to do, the adaptive cruise control will be able to accelerate into an uphill, which is more efficient than reacting to a change in speed. It will also know when it can start to accelerate based on a corner apex, and even go so far as to plan what the best speed for the corner would be, based on a perceived optimal lateral g-force rating.
These technologies should reduce the amount of time that car uses the brakes, and thus improve how well momentum is maintained, while keeping the engine snuggled up in the BSFC window.
According to Porsche, this technology will be available by 2020. Our only question is whether autonomous driving and sports cars go hand in hand at all. While we can see Cayenne and Panamera drivers taking the proverbial back seat, mug of coffee and morning papers in hand, who wouldn’t want to have full control over their 911?