Not your father's cruise control, Audi's adaptive system is another step on the road to autonomous driving. That earns it a spot as one of our Technology of the Year finalists.

Audi Adaptive Cruise Control can slow down or speed up your vehicle depending on the conditions. It's also capable of coming to a full stop and then resuming speed. This allows the vehicle to move with traffic without engagement from the driver using Traffic Jam Assist at speeds up to 40 miles per hour. It's not being marketed as an auto-pilot setup. Rather, this system can increase driver safety by automatically braking as the vehicle in front slows and then accelerating once the path becomes clear. The cruise control has five programmable settings to regulate distance between vehicles.

Linked with the navigation system, Audi's ACC suite uses a camera and radar to respond to its environment, a key development for future systems that will need to communicate with the grid. The system can read street signs, allowing it to slow down or speed up. Additionally, when a destination is set, the vehicle will automatically brake when a turn is looming to alert the driver he or she needs to take action. It will brake through the turn and then speed up upon completing the maneuver. We especially liked this, as many navigation systems don't inform the driver when to turn or take an exit until the last possible moment. Further, when navigating curves, the Audi system will brake the vehicle and resume speed as conditions require.

This Adaptive Cruise Control is a layer of artificial intelligence we can get on board with. It's like having a co-pilot to assist the driver when the inevitable fatigue or distractions appear. It engages like a normal cruise control system. Simply pull the stalk in the steering wheel mount, and there's a button to modulate the distance.

We tested Audi's Adaptive Cruise Control on an A4, where it is an $1,800-option as part of the Driver Assistance Package. Working in combination with Audi's Virtual Cockpit and head-up display, ACC provides the driver a sense of awareness and greater level of information than other systems on the road. Companies like Volvo and Porsche offer similar setups, but we like the intuitiveness of the Audi program.

Automakers have been saying for years that the autonomous technology is essentially here, they just need the infrastructure and regulations to catch up. Audi's thoughtful system bridges that gap, creating a vehicle that's capable of acting appropriately with little driver input.

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2017 Audi A4

MSRP : $37,300

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2017 Audi A4

MSRP : $37,300
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