Porsche InnoDrive: A Smarter Adaptive Cruise Control System | Edmunds

Porsche InnoDrive: A Smarter Adaptive Cruise Control System


Adaptive cruise control is one of those foundational technologies that will become increasingly more sophisticated until it eventually merges with other rapidly evolving driver-assistance systems to produce full autonomy. That day is still a long way off, but Porsche's InnoDrive (PID) system, available now on the 2018 Panamera and next year on the 2019 Cayenne, represents another modest step in that direction.

Typical adaptive cruise control systems use a centrally mounted radar sensor in the grille that stares straight ahead looking for another vehicle in the same lane. Such systems will maintain the driver's desired speed until the sensor sees something, at which point the system will switch to following-distance mode. Better systems will maintain that gap even if the car ahead slows to a stop, and the best ones will issue warnings and engage automatic emergency braking if the leading car slows abruptly and the driver doesn't react. Collision avoidance is possible at low speeds, but collision mitigation is the best we can hope for in high-speed events until vehicles are able to communicate with one another.

InnoDrive can do all of this, but it instead uses a pair of radar sensors mounted at the extreme ends of the full-width front grille so the system can find the left and right edges of the car ahead, too. At speeds up to 37 mph (60 km/h), this enables traffic jam assist, in which InnoDrive works with the electric power steering-enabled lane keeping assist system to center a PID-enabled Porsche behind the vehicle ahead and essentially follow it in slow traffic. However, Porsche is quick to point out that this system is not intended to enable hands-off driving. The automaker expects drivers to be drivers, and the car will issue an urgent warning if no hands are detected for 15 seconds. Indeed we've sampled similar competing systems before, and we learned that things can go wrong if, say, the leading car creeps into an adjacent lane while you're not paying attention.

PID's other trick involves the incorporation of map data into the cruise control system's operating strategy. Once you've set a route, the car knows where it is going and, more to the point, the cruise control knows the radius of the upcoming curves, the gradient of the hills and valleys, and the posted speed limits. PID uses these factors to ease off as curves approach and resume the pace as the road straightens. It can anticipate an approaching summit, change the target speed to match shifting speed limits, and generally trim the car's speed to deliver a measured pace on meandering highways that aren't straight and flat.

You still have to steer, though. This aspect of PID is just a cruise control enhancement.

We were especially intrigued by one particularly interesting application. If you're driving a PID-equipped Panamera E-Hybrid (or the Cayenne E-Hybrid that will come later), the system examines the route out to 3 miles ahead and calculates the best time for the hybrid powertrain to be in gasoline mode, pure electric mode, or "sailing" mode, a managed form of coasting. A cruise control system that can help a vehicle be more efficient? We're in.

North American customers can order a 2018 Porsche Panamera with InnoDrive today by selecting the $5,370 Assistance package. The system will be available for an as-yet-undisclosed price on the fully redesigned 2019 Porsche Cayenne when it debuts next summer. Stay tuned for InnoDrive performance impressions once we get our hands on one and sample it on American roads.

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