Observing speed limits or not doing so has long been this kind of quaint analog dance between you seeing signs stuck on a stick.
Looking at this gauge quavering back and forth on your dash and rolling the dice as to how likely it is you're about to get busted for doing too much.
But our relationship with speed and speed limits is about to go from very analog to very digital.
You probably all Already heard that Volvo is on track to say their cars will be electronically limited to 112 miles an hour top speed by 2020.
Now this is hardly mapping to any speed limit much higher than anyone with any road, right?
But it's a start at saying that we should engineered cars toward how fast they should go Not just how fast they can go, that's a major shift in how you set up engine control and engine design technology.
Now, the EU's got something called ISA, Intelligent Speed Adaptation, it's actually a basket of available technologies.
The first level's a warning just simply telling you you're above the speed limit.
The next level would be an accelerator pedal design that has significantly increased resistance.
If you're trying to speed, you've gotta lean on that thing.
And third, is a limiter that simply keeps the car from speeding.
Now the EU is on track to require all new cars to have an amalgam of those three traits, by 2022.
Note that the system will be switchable.
It can be defeated but it's going to go back into effect every time you start the car and if you do defeat it, or push through the pedal beyond the certain speed, you've made an affirmative recorded commitment on the cars' black box to do that speeding.
That changes your relationship with liability I would think if something goes wrong.
I get a lot of questions about how these cars will know what the speed limit is.
Drivers don't even know that half the time.
Well that's because drivers are human and therefore inattentive.
Cars already have cameras that can do sign recognition.
See a speed limit sign, never miss one, and read what it says and display that on the dash or use it otherwise.
Additionally, there will be GPS databases, typically part of map databases, in the car stored on a hard drive or solid state drive somewhere, which will be read by the GPS coordinates, as part of that technology in the vehicle as well.
It's really not that hard.
It's nothing your phone doesn't do readily already.
So putting the knowledge Into the car system is a snap.
Now, here in the US nothing quite like this is in the open but we do have something coming to the truck industry, at least if two senators have their way.
A proposal on the senate to leave all big rates to 65 miles per hour regardless of speed limit on their road, it could be 70, 75, 80.
But 65 would be all they can do.
This would be using built in technology that many trucks already have to work as a speed governor and limit their speed but it's typically not used.
You may occasionally see a delivery truck or maybe some kind of other vehicle out there a rental truck that will say electronically governed are limited to a certain speed.
Using built in electronic governor technology.
This would require companies to use it to the limit of 65 if they already have it but not require them to put it retroactively into trucks that don't have it.
As you can imagine, the truckers and their industry groups are alarmed by this Because they feel the greater danger will be a lot of trucks that are doing, let's say 65 on a road where everyone else is doing 70, 75, 80, more.
They say that speed differentials more dangerous than the speed itself.
The Senate bills authors say the DOT is determined that a 65 mile an hour cap on Big Rigs would result in between 60 and about 200 lives saved annually.
traffic fatalities involving big trucks.
That's out of about 1300 total Big Rig involved fatalities each year on highways and freeways.
So a significant reduction in that pool, but a it's a pretty small number compared to the 37,000 or so annual fatalities on US roads.
The most interesting part about these speed technologies is not what they mean to speed, but how they will quietly usher in the future of autonomy right under our noses.
While we're all focused on all this amazing self driving cars with nobody behind the wheel and clustered with radar.
This technologies along with automatic emergency breaking, lane departure prevention, even adoptive cruise control are sneakily bringing in normalization of a car knowing and doing what is best.
Instead of just us, this is where the revolution arises and you didn't even see it coming.
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