Car which will book you for speeding
Sep 26 2005
Roadside speed cameras will be redundant eventually because vehicles will automatically cop themselves for speeding.
This is the plan of the Department for Transport, which has commissioned companies to develop aircraft-style black boxes for cars.
They will record every aspect of a vehicle's performance and automatically issue a ticket every time the vehicle exceeds a speed limit.
The black boxes will be linked to central computers via the Global Positioning System so that the prevailing speed limit is known at any given point in time.
Every time a vehicle breaks the limit the black boxes will send a signal to the computer with the car registration number and a ticket will be issued automatically.
The black box will also be able to slow vehicles down by over-riding the engine management system and in the case of stolen vehicles will be able to bring them to a complete halt.
Other systems are in development. To test if a driver is safe and legal to drive, and not under the influence of alcohol, Volvo has designed an integrated breathalyser that attaches to the seatbelt.
This must be used before the car's engine will start. The breathalyser shows a green light if the driver is OK to drive and once the seatbelt is fastened the car can be started as normal.
However, if the driver is over the limit a red light flashes on the breathalyser and it will not be possible to drive the car.
The other new safety concept is an ignition key that can be programmed to limit the car's speed to a pre-set maximum.
This is aimed at younger or less experienced drivers who borrow the family car so a parent can set the limit before handing over the key. Volvo says that both the breathalyser and speed limiter key systems will be offered on its new cars soon.
The first Volvo to receive the new system will be the S80 saloon next summer.
Volvo has developed a system that can determine if a crash looks imminent. The driver is warned and if no action is taken the brakes are applied automatically.
The new Collision Warning and Auto Brake system will be an optional safety extra likely to cost in the region of £1,000.
It uses radar and a camera to send continuous beams back and forth to determine the proximity of all objects, not just other vehicles.
If the car is heading towards a wall or bridge or other object it will calculate the point at which immediate avoiding action must be taken.
The driver is warned and if no action is taken the brakes are applied automatically.
Volvo safety spokesman Jonas Ekmark, says: "If you take your eyes off the road and miss the car in front braking heavily it will warn the driver two or three seconds before a collision. If the driver does not respond it will brake when the collision becomes imminent."
The Volvo Co-Driver programme has already produced the Driver Alert system to warn against drowsiness.
This system monitors a driver's blinking and can detect drowsiness at the wheel, triggering audible warnings.
It is expected to be offered on new Volvos within the next couple of years alongside the other systems.