It’s called geo-fencing, and it could be the end of speed signs (and speeding fines).
The way it works is the car is hooked up to a virtual geographical boundary.
Think of it like those horrible electric dog collars that shock a dog when they go past a virtual line.
So if you are driving along and don’t realize you just entered a school zone where the speed limit is 30km/h (18mph), the car will brake and make sure you can’t speed.
How Ford’s geo-fence works
Ford is testing it in Cologne, Germany with the all-electric E-Transit truck.
These trucks are hooked up to the geofencing system and GPS tracking.
The driver gets the new speed flash up on the dashboard as they are about to cross into that zone and the vehicle automatically slows down to match the legal limit.
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Ford says the driver can override the system and deactivate the control at any time.
Testing is across all 30km/h zones in the centre of Cologne as well as in selected 50 km/h and 30 km/h zones elsewhere in the city.
The trial is being run until March 2023 and Ford says it could be rolled out to a whole range of commercial and regular passenger vehicles.
“Geofencing can ensure speeds are reduced where – and even when – necessary to help improve safety and create a more pleasant environment,” Michael Huynh, manager, City Engagement Germany, Ford of Europe said.
Why are they doing it?
While Ford says the driver can override it at any time, anyone who has ever used a computer knows tech can sometimes… go wrong.
As someone who rides a motorcycle, I know you need to be able to give it the gas to get out of a sticky situation (like a moron driver about to merge into you).
But there are some obvious benefits of the idea.
There’s no doubt speeding is a major factor in deadly car crashes.
Having cars stick to the limit (especially in these low-speed signs where there are a lot of pedestrians, cyclists, and children) would make life a lot safer.
Plus we could get rid of giant ugly speed signs.
AND… no more speeding fines.
It’s an interesting concept and we’ll be keeping a close eye on how the project goes.