Porsche is working on a new form of intelligent cruise control called “Innodrive,” and it promises to do all the cornering work for you. Well, some of it. You still have to steer.
Yeah, I know, this is already getting weird, but bear with me. The thinking behind surpasses active cruise control systems which you may have seen already. Those tend to be radar-guided, and they react to what’s immediately around them. Porsche, on the other hand, is going with a different method. Their system aims to be more proactive, planning for the road ahead based on information stored inside the navigation system.
Steering is only half the battle when going through a corner. The other half involves the brake and the throttle, and if you’re going for maximum efficiency – not fun, pure, Germanic efficiency – most people tend to get a little too hard on both pedals than is most frugal. The thinking behind it is that people tend to lose precious drips of gasoline while going through a corner. Even if they’ve got the cruise control engaged, they tend to hit the brakes just before a bend, so they don’t barrel through at high speed.
And that tapping of the brakes, with all of your human mistakes, imprecision, and miscalculation, is bad for fuel economy. The Porsche system, on the other hand, promises to know a corner better than you do. And to know the corner, it has all of the corner radius and grade stored inside its memory already. That way it can anticipate what’s coming up next.
Here, let Car and Driver explain, as they tested a version of it in Germany:
The keys are minimizing deceleration for cornering—hence the high g-loading—and accelerating quickly, sometimes even at wide-open throttle, over short periods of time in the most frugal part of the engine’s operating range. Incremental fuel-economy gains come from speeding up ever so slightly just before an incline—rather than reacting to the grade after the car has slowed a bit—and braking or coasting when entering cities to perfectly match the car to the speed limit.
If that’s still unclear, which is totally forgivable, imagine you’re driving down a country lane at 90 MPH, because you’re a goddamn maniac. Also, you have the cruise control set, at 90 MPH, on your country lane, because as we’ve already stated you’re a goddamn maniac.
Your country lane has a curve approaching, and rather than rely on you to hit the brakes and cancel out the cruise control, the Porsche will hit the brakes for you, enabling you to keep your feet off the pedals and save some fuel.
Porsche says their system can handle up to 0.7G of lateral acceleration, which for you non-physics majors out there means it can handle some pretty serious cornering. If, you know, you tend to drive in a very spirited manner, in your Porsche 911, but always with the cruise control on.
But weirdness aside, Porsche says that it can save up to 10 percent on fuel economy, and up to two percent on drive time.
Two percent! On most trips, that’s great! It’s almost a couple of seconds!