Finally! A Car That Can Tell You the Speed Limit

Carsignreader

One thing that irks us — OK, me — is taking a trip and not being able to find a speed limit sign when you’re unsure of the local rules of the road. GM’s British brand, Vauxhall, has solved that problem with a new optional front camera system that takes 30 still photographs a second, processes them, then uses image recognition to read road signs and spit out the current speed limit to a display on the dash. So even if you missed a sign while changing the radio station, the camera didn’t.

You’d think there would be an easier way to find the speed limit, like GPS, but no automaker has found another solution.

The system will debut in Vauxhall’s upcoming Insignia sedan, pictured below. This car is the basis of the next generation of GM midsize sedans like the Pontiac G6, Saturn Aura and Chevy Malibu. We don’t expect to see them stateside until the 2010 model year at the earliest.

Insignia

By David Thomas | June 27, 2008 | Comments (17)
Tags: Car Gadgets

Comments 

woogie

Sounds good for the EU since their speed limit signs are standardized as a circular red outline with a black number on a white background.

In the US you've got a black outline and black numbers on a white, yellow(caution speed) or orange(work zone speed), in a rectangular shape. I expect the system will recognize the different colors involved for the US.

Then there's the issue of leaving a construction zone. I rarely see a speed limit sign, just the End Work Zone sign indicating the speed limit has gone back up.

Compare that to US highway route markers. Black outline with a black number on a white background on a shield shaped sign. Some stats like CT have a black outline with black numbers on a white background. Or the outline is in the shape of the state, which in the case of those square states pretty much would look like a speed limit sign.

I hope the system can differentiate the height to width ratio on these signs, because there could be some real interesting situations driving on CT route 156.

Maxwell

This is a problem that's easily solved without adding more complexity and cost to cars.

When in doubt about the speed limit, just keep your speed well under 5 MPH. You will never get a ticket.

markt

thats kind of helpful, although i'm sure this info could be added to nav systems. on another note, that vauxhall pictured is a sweet looking car! i hope the U.S. sees something like that soon

Mart

I understand something VERY similar (ie, it's the same car) will be the next Saturn Aura

Tony

In my opinion it is waste of time and money

Mart,
I'm pretty sure that's what I said in the post. Although rumor has it many models including the aura may be on hold as GM figures out their next moves in a tough economy.

Mart

Dave,

You are of course right, and I realised after I posted. It's annoying that you cannot edit your posts here!

I think it bears mentioning that it's hotly tipped that the Aura in particular is simply going to be a rebadged Insignia, whereas the next malibu and the new Buick will be simply based off this platform.

Roo

One thing I can't stand about California is the terrible signage for speed limits. There are few signs on roads other than freeways and there'll be gaps in speed limits. For example, I'll see a sign for a 35mph zone, then a mile down see a sign that says "end 45 mph zone." Where the heck was that 45mph sign? Besides, on those "end speed limit zone" signs, what does the speed limit become? Credit to the EU that their signage is much better!

J

Maxwell,

My significant other tried that and got a ticket for going under the minimum limit.

Whatever will law enforcement do if we no longer have to fixate on speed limits because our cars will not exceed them? How will they raise massive amounts of revenue on the backs of innocent motorists under the fallacious guise of safety?

Speed does not kill. Stupidity and driver inattention and driver incapacitation all kill; but speed has little or nothing to do with it.

Driving under 5mph? Yeah, that's like refusing to go through an intersection with a traffic signal for fear of a red light camera ticket.

Wake up America! Do nothing and someday only government officials will have vehicles, and yet you will STILL have to pay for them.

For REAL change, vote Libertarian in 2008!

Gerry

You hit one of my pet peeves- the end speed limit sign. It is a totally useless waste of money. It doesn't tell you anything about what you should do now! For the same cost of sign, they could put in BEGIN 45mph and you would know what to do.

After many years on an ambulance, i can assure you speed kills. Almost every driver thinks they are a good driver and can safely go over the speed limit. 4 million auto accidents a year seems to prove otherwise. Most drivers have a hard time at 60.

Speed limits should be reasonable for the road (not 35 on a 4 lane wide open road)and not chosen as a revenue generator and then enforced vigorously.

Duh

Why not just have a camera that can read all different kinds of road signs: speed limit, construction zone, animal crossings, falling rocks, whatever, and then just display the alerts on the dashboard?

Mart

"For the same cost of sign, they could put in BEGIN 45mph and you would know what to do."

Actually, that probably isn't true. Generic "end limit" signs can be used on multiple roads, whereas, if you had specific signage for the road, you'd have to have signs made up for all diffeent speed limits. I'm pretty sure that on a bulk level that would add up to significantly higher costs.

I'm not sure how it is here (i learned to drive in the UK) but when you learn to drive, aren't you taught to understand the national speed limits here without the use of signs, based on the type of road etc? Certainly over there it is very clearly taught about what speed limits are and where. For example, you can tell the difference between a 30 and a 40 zone by the spacing between lampposts (although that is pretty hard in practice). I guess maybe here there is a wider variation in limits, especially when travelling interstate? there it was (mostly) either 30, 40, 60, or 70 on the motorway. easy really.

smokeoit

it's an OPEL invention!

Linus

I bet the camera can't distinguish between the car limit signs [generally 65 mph on a divided freeway] and the truck/car towing a trailer limit [55], so we'll all be running with the trucks, slower. CalTrans has "End Construction Zone" signs where appropriate, but no speed limit sign half the time.

WINSTON WEILHEIMER

The navigon gps system gives speed limits on the screen. I don't know how they do it, but it is accurate and the speed limit changes as you approach the road sign. I have a 7200 which comes with free lifetime traffic reports

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