Self-driving cars are supposed to be the Next Big Thing(tm). Audi, Google, and Tesla have all exhibited and demonstrated vehicles with very impressive autonomous ability. The legal framework for self-driving cars is probably lagging behind the technological frameworks at this point.
At the moment, Tesla’s autopilot is legally limited to the car bringing itself to your front door in the morning, and a very adaptive cruise control that uses radar to detect other cars and cameras to read the speed limit off of road signs when controlling the throttle. It’s a complicated thing to implement, and it’s actually more than I want. I propose a simpler “smart cruise control.”
In essence, I’d like to have cruise control that takes RPM and MPG into account when setting the MPH. I don’t mind braking around other vehicles or keeping an eye open for speed limit signs, but I do get annoyed when cruise control suddenly downshifts and redlines the engine on an uphill to avoid losing speed or jams on the engine braking on a slight downhill to avoid gaining speed. Small, gradual changes to speed are preferable to large, rapid changes to the throttle.
This simpler solution that I want is cheaper and easier than radar and cameras. If you drive a car that was built after 1995, it already has the sensors and computing power to do this. The only thing it probably doesn’t have is an easily accessible control system for tweaking the exact mix of RPM, MPG, and MPH that you want your cruise control to take into account.
Still, this would be easy enough to experiment with. Someone with a little electrical and programming knowledge could use a Bluetooth OBDII plug to get the real-time MPH, MPG, and RPM data into a smartphone, and then use a simple app to process the data and send desired speed to an Arduino controller wired directly into the cruise control buttons on the steering wheel. Someone on Hackaday.io should get working on this.