Driver support systems are becoming more sophisticated, and now automakers seem to have found a way to make sure everyone is sticking to the speed limit. Ford is now testing geofencing technology, which can automatically reduce vehicle speeds in predefined areas around schools, hospitals and shopping areas.
The technology, currently being tested in Cologne, Germany, creates a virtual geographical boundary with speed limits. When the vehicle enters this area, the system ensures that the vehicle will not exceed the predefined speed limit. This can happen without visible signs on the road, warning drivers that they have entered a geofenced zone through a digital instrument cluster. Ford believes the system will come in handy on unfamiliar routes, or in cases where the driver did not notice speeding signs, protect them from fines and, most importantly, reduce the risk of accidents.
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The hardware is already in place to automatically control the speed of a vehicle Systems similar to modern ADAS such as Ford’s Intelligent Speed Assist and Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop and Go, or other automakers can ensure that drivers do not exceed the speed limit.
What is different with geofencing is that these boundaries will be public for all vehicles entering certain areas, we are talking about public space or private facilities. The system can automatically slow down the car, but the driver is still able to override and deactivate it – at least for now.
Geofencing’s 12-month trial is the result of a collaboration between the Ford City Engagement Team, city officials in Cologne and Aachen, and Palo Alto’s Ford software engineers. The test vehicles are pre-prototypes of fully electric Ford e-transit. In the future, Ford wants to offer a geofencing speed limit control system on all its commercial and passenger vehicles, so that owners can set up their own geofencing zones. In addition, speed limits can be dynamic, varying according to local hazards, road works and time zones.