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Cruise Control technology in automobiles

Cruise Control technology in automobiles

Cruise control (sometimes known as speed control or autocruise) is a system that automatically controls the speed of a motor vehicle. The driver of the vehicle sets the speed and the cruise control system then takes over the throttle of the car to maintain the speed of the vehicle, thereby improving the drivers comfort in steady traffic.

This kind of speed regulation or control was first used in automobiles as early as 1910 by US luxury car manufacturer Peerless of Cleveland, who promoted that their new fangled system would "maintain speed whether up hill or down". The technology behind their development which made use of a centrifugal governor was invented by James Watt and Matthew Boulton back in 1788 for controlling steam engines.

Modern cruise control systems were invented in 1945 by a prolific (and blind) inventor and mechanical engineer Ralph Teetor. His new invention was famously born out of the frustration of being in a car driven by his lawyer, who kept speeding up and slowing down as he talked.

The first car that incorporated Ralph Teetor's cruise control system, then referred to as "Auto-pilot" was the 1958 Imperial which used a mechanism that calculated ground speed based on the driveshaft rotations and used a solenoid to vary throttle position as needed.

Following Teeters developments a 1955 US patent for a "Constant Speed Regulator" was filed by M-Sgt Frank J. Riley (nothing to do with Riley cars). He had successfully installed his invention into his own car in 1948. Despite this patent, Riley and subsequent patent holders were not able to collect royalties for any inventions using cruise control.

Following the 1973 oil crisis which saw members of the Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries including Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, United Arab Emirates, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Qatar and Syria proclaiming an oil embargo on the US, cruise control technology became more popular in the automobile industry due to the rapidly rising fuel prices. Cruise control helps to reduce fuel consumption on vehicles by avoiding sudden surges that expel fuel while driving at steady speeds.

These days most modern vehicles incorporate cruise control technology and it is also possible to fit aftermarket cruise control systems to many vehicles that don't have it factory fitted. Bridgwater Electronics offer aftermarket cruise control kits which are suitable for use on many vehicles. This system allows the driver to relax their feet from the pedals and just steer. The system is easily activated and de-activated by the flick of a switch.

The benefits of our aftermarket cruise control kits include:

  • Helps to reduce fuel consumption and exhaust emissions (lowering your carbon footprint).
  • Allows you to concentrate on the road and not your speedometer.
  • Helps avoid unintended speeding penalties.
  • Allows you to set a maximum vehicle speed limit in safety camera enforcement areas.
  • Reduce driver fatigue and enhance driver comfort.

The AP900 cruise control unit is available with a range of plug-in harnesses or a universal wire-in harness - depending on the vehicle application. Operation is via the CM35 stalk control or the steering wheel mounted CM-IR infra-red control.

Cruise Control Features

  • Driver selectable speed limiter
  • Operates via drive-by-wire
  • Max limit can be set on installation
  • Option of different control stalks available
  • E marked & TÜV approved
  • On-road calibration self learning technology 
  • Max speed limit selectable between 50mph (80kph) – 93mph (150kph)


Our aftermarket cruise control kits can be used for

  • Passenger cars
  • LCV & HGV vehicles
  • Camper vans & motorhomes

If you are looking to purchase a cruise control kit for your vehicle then check our cruise control compatibility page for some of the popular vehicle manufacturers and models, or if your vehicle is not listed just fill out our enquiry form and we will get back to you asap.