Feeds

GPS tech to rein in UK's speeding motorists

Ultimate back seat driver

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Build a business case: developing custom apps

Plans are underway to use a satellite-based system to stop motorists from speeding following the conclusion of government-backed trials of the technology in Leeds. The speed limiting technology works by applying brakes or cutting out the accelerator in modified cars whenever a driver tries to exceed to limit for a particular stretch of road.

In the trial, a control device was loaded with a digital map showing the speed limit of every road in Leeds. This was linked to a satellite positioning system. If a speed limit was exceeded an "auto-pilot" function would slow a car down. The system can be over-ridden to avoid a hazard but in normal circumstances drivers would not be allowed to go over a speed limit.

A six-month trial of the technology in Leeds using volunteer drivers and 20 modified Škoda1 Fabias concluded the technology promoted road safety. Fitting the system to all Britain’s cars could save up to 1,000 lives a year, according to Leeds University researchers. The Yorkshire boffins carried out the trials as part of a two-year research project into "intelligent speed adaptation" (ISA) funded by £2m from the Department for Transport (DfT). Results of the trial are due to be presented to minister this week, The Sunday Times reports.

Beyond representing yet another example of the surveillance society New Labour seems keen to promote the technology could also be viewed as a way of making the introduction of road pricing more palatable. If you know where people are at any point and how fast they've been traveling then it's only a short step to bill them for the miles they've covered. The safety argument could be used to persuade people of the benefits of "speed spy" technology while offering early adopters discounts on motoring charges. That, at least in theory, might make increased charges to urban motorists that would accompany the introduction of road pricing easier to swallow.

The Sunday Times reports that a study commissioned by London’s transport chiefs recommended congestion charge discounts to drivers using the system. The DfT said it had no plans to make the system compulsory although it is considering commissioning the creation of a digital map of Britain's road system that would pave the way for the possible introduction of the technology.

However drivers groups remain unconvinced about the supposed safety benefits of the approach. Edmund King, of the RAC Foundation, said that taking control away from drivers might make them less alert. ®

1 Škoda, as well as being the leading car maker in the Czech Republic, also means "what a shame" or pity in Czech and some other Slavic languages. Older Škodas have a reputation of being somewhat slow so the use of newer versions of the car in the trials may well prompt hoots of derision from the "petrol-heads" crowd.

Related stories

UK would tag all vehicles in road pricing scheme
UK road pricing plan heralds the ID card for cars
CVs, privacy and GPS tracking
Munich faces RFID-controlled congestion charge
Blunkett pilot to track offenders via satellite

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Boffins attempt to prove the UNIVERSE IS JUST A HOLOGRAM
Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?
Our LOHAN spaceplane ballocket Kickstarter climbs through £8000
Through 25 per cent but more is needed: Get your UNIQUE rewards!
China building SUPERSONIC SUBMARINE that travels in a BUBBLE
Shanghai to San Fran in two hours would be a trick, though
LOHAN tunes into ultra long range radio
And verily, Vultures shall speak status unto distant receivers
SpaceX prototype rocket EXPLODES over Texas. 'Tricky' biz, says Elon Musk
No injuries or near injuries. Flight stayed in designated area
Galileo, Galileo! Galileo, Galileo! Galileo fit to go. Magnifico
I'm just a poor boy, nobody loves me. But at least I can find my way with ESA GPS by 2017
EOS, Lockheed to track space junk from Oz
WA facility gets laser-eyes out of the fog
prev story

Whitepapers

Top 10 endpoint backup mistakes
Avoid the ten endpoint backup mistakes to ensure that your critical corporate data is protected and end user productivity is improved.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Backing up distributed data
Eliminating the redundant use of bandwidth and storage capacity and application consolidation in the modern data center.
The essential guide to IT transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIOs automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.