Could Speeding Become Impossible?

Update: Since writing this article, I’ve come across this piece in The Times. In a nutshell, the idea is that a GPS unit in every car would be used to monitor each car’s position 10 times every second and take over control of the steering/braking if there was a likelihood of collision with a nearby vehicle.

While it’s hard to make a logical case against technology that is aimed at reducing accidents, it’s also hard to avoid the conclusion that the end result of all this is that eventually cars will drive themselves – reducing accidents and emissions – and we will all become passengers. Fair enough, I suppose, but I really like driving…

Imagine this:

You’re driving through a town and hit a stretch of clear road. Despite the 30 limit, your speed inevitably creeps upwards.

Except it doesn’t. Your car stops accelerating when your speed reaches 30mph and absolutely refuses to go any faster – despite you pushing the accelerator to the floor.

Ideal scenario? Nightmare?

Opinions on Intelligent Speed Adaptation (as it’s known) vary widely but this system is now a reality, currently being trialled on a number of buses, taxis and cars operating in London.

If the trials are successful, the ISA system will go on sale to the public, too, although the service is only available inside the M25 at the moment. Transport for London (TfL), which is running the trial, believes that if two-thirds of London drivers used ISA, road casualties in the capital could be cut by 10%.

I don’t think it will ever become a legal requirement – but you never know. If the system proves effective and reliable, I would expect to see it widely adopted by fleet operators. Some optimistic observers have commented that ISA won’t just slow down the vehicles which use it – all the vehicles stuck behind will be forced to slow down too, although this could increase tailgating and aggressive overtaking.

For an insight on how it feels to use ISA when driving in London, have a read of The Telegraph’s review of the system. It’s an interesting read and there’s a video of ISA in action, too.

The BBC also has a good article and review.

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