Do you have trouble understanding double digits? When driving, do you find it hard to pay attention to little things, like what speed you're going? Well, fret no longer. Ford's got you covered. Introducing the "Intelligent Speed Limiter," a built-in device that can detect road signs and cameras and slow your car down when needed.
Think of it as a brain for people who don't have one.
The Intelligent Speed Limiter will be available in Britain this summer as part of Ford's new S-Max, a vehicle that Roelant de Waard, Ford of Europe vice-president, marketing, sales and service, says "defies the notion that a versatile seven-seat family car cannot also be stylish, rewarding to drive and technologically advanced. Intelligent Speed Limiter is one of those technologies that people will wonder how they did without – not just because they avoid speeding fines but because driving becomes that much less stressful."
Let's put aside the fact that anyone who uses the words "family," "car" and "stylish" in the same sentence should be automatically dismissed. Let's put aside the fact that Intelligent Speed Limiter sounds like something Kurt Vonnegut might have cut from Breakfast of Champions and then Thomas Pynchon borrowed and put in Gravity's Rainbow.
Let's look at the Intelligent Speed Limiter and what it means to the future of driving. On the micro-scale, it's just another small step toward the robots taking over. It simply combines two existing Ford technologies: the Adjustable Speed Limiter, which lets drivers manually set a maximum speed, and the Traffic Sign Recognition, which provides drivers with the latest traffic information, such as speed limits and passing restrictions. Easy.
The Intelligent Speed Limiter uses a windshield-mounted camera to monitor road signs. When the Intelligent Speed Limiter recognizes that the driver has exceeded the speed limit by more than 10 km/h, the system slows the vehicle, not by applying the brakes but by adjusting the amount of fuel delivered. A driver can override the system by "firmly" accelerating. So far, so good. Speed is a factor in a majority of accidents and any technology that can control it should be beneficial.
And yet …
Will Intelligent Speed Limiter reduce or increase velocitization? That's the phenomenon that causes drivers who travel at a high rate of speed for extended periods of time to no longer feel as if they are travelling fast when they enter into a zone with a slower posted speed limit. By automatically alerting drivers, this sort of technology could snuff out velocitization or it could make us complacent and make it far worse.
There is something unsettling about a technology that will allow drivers to pay even less attention than they already are. As for making driving "less stressful" – you're operating a ton of potentially lethal rolling steel; shouldn't that be a little stressful? In the grand lexicon of things that are important when driving, the speed you're travelling at it is near the top of the list. Is it too much to ask that a driver pay attention? Anyone who can't be bothered to check what speed they're going should not be driving. If you're that lazy, an intelligent "speed-limiting" move would be to put your keys down and let someone else do the driving.
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