Cars in UK Could Get Computer Nannies

Sep 16, 2003
Auto Cars in UK Could Get Computer Nannies
Shane McGlaun (Blog) - May 11, 2009 9:26 AM


Computers could prevent UK drivers from speeding by deactivating throttle

One of the many staples of science fiction is cars that can drive themselves. The idea is interesting to some motoristswho could use the system to drive for them if they were too tired or if the driver wanted to read while driving without risking their life and those aroundthem.

The first step to such a system is being tested in the UK with a new in-car computer thatwould prevent vehicles from speeding. The system would detect the speed of the vehicle, compare the speed to a digital map with all road speeds, and slowthe vehicle down accordingly. The system is called Intelligent Speed Adaptation and the pilot program is being unveiled in the UK today.

The program is being viewed as a scheme to save lives across the UK and would ultimately add £500 to the cost of a vehicle if implemented. Opponents to thesystem say that it would undermine the driver's freedom and could hinder road safety.

The trial of the program is being conducted by the Transport for London (TfL), the body responsible for running the buses and trains in the capital city. Afleet of vehicles equipped with the technology is expected to take to London roadways this summer and will include a bus, cabs, and cars. The trial isscheduled to last for six months as the technology is evaluated for its impact on road safety and congestion.

The computer brain of the system will be programmed with all of the roads that compromise the M25 for the trial. Vehicles equipped with the system will havetwo driving modes -- voluntary and advisory. The advisory mode would put a face on an LCD screen that either frowns or smiles depending on if the vehicle isadhering to speed limits.

The voluntary mode would go a step further and when the vehicle exceeds posted speed limits, the gas pedal would be deactivated until the car slows. Officialsbehind the pilot program hope that the voluntary mode will become a requirement.

The voluntary system doesn't control vehicle braking; it simply disengages the accelerator so the car coasts to the posted speed limit. One big potentialissue with the system could be the inability to merge onto the highway using a vehicle with the voluntary system that could be unable to hit merging speeds.

Chris Lines, head of the TfL road safety unit said, "This innovative technology could help any driver avoid the unnecessary penalties of creeping over thespeed limit and at the same time will save lives."

AA's Andrew Howard says, "Drivers are divided in their views of ISA; some hate it, some want it. Many have questions that will be answered only bytrials like those being carried out by TfL."

Paul Biggs from the Association of British Drivers fears that the system will stop drivers from thinking. Drivers have similar problems with GPS devices andhave at times literally nearly fallen off a cliff blindly following computer guidance.

The findings of the trial will be reported next year.

I have a feeling that James Bond movies are going to become far more dull after this has taken effect.


But really, what do you guys think about this? Will it dramatically increase driving safety? Will it cause you to betardy to work? This would effective erase street racing was one of my first thoughts. Another thought, imagine rush hour(not gridlock)
if it wasnt for allthe people desperate to get home it would take noticeably longer.

I could already imagine any midnight with whips on the freeway goin the speed limit filled with nothin but drunk people.

If that DID crossover here, the Cops wouldn't be able to pull me over for $%@+.
just another way for the government to try and control people's everyday lives. Wouldn't work in the states anyway (if it will even work in the UK).Local police need the revenue generated from giving tickets, they are underfunded as it is, facing budget cuts, now this would eliminate even more money thatthey don't have from their budget. Sounds exactly like something the current administration would love, if only they could find a way to tax it.
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