Too smart for us

Our con­stantly vary­ing speed lim­its de­feat the lat­est safety tech­nol­ogy

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Cars News - MARK HINCHLIFFE mark.hinchliffe@cars­guide.com.au

BMWhas joined Aussie mo­torists bam­boo­zled by speed signs and has aban­doned a safety sys­tem in­tended to make sure driv­ers stay un­der the speed limit. It has dropped speed-zone recog­ni­tion tech­nol­ogy, blam­ing fre­quent speed zone changes in Aus­tralia for the sys­tem’s in­abil­ity to guar­an­tee ac­cu­racy.

The Ger­man com­pany plans to re­fund the $700 that the op­tional soft­ware costs, if cus­tomers want it pro­grammed out of their car.

The satel­lite nav­i­ga­tion soft­ware uses a cam­era to mon­i­tor speed limit signs and dis­play them on the wind­screen in front of the driver. While most satnav tech­nol­ogy uses stored in­for­ma­tion about speed zones, theBMWsys­tem is the only tech­nol­ogy that also uses a cam­era to scan speed limit signs in­clud­ing tem­po­rary road­work signs.

Where the stored data and cam­era scan dif­fer, the cam­era over­rides the in­for­ma­tion.

Other speed zone soft­ware in­cludes Holden’s ad­vi­sory sys­tem in its lat­est VE II Com­modore, while speed lim­its are also in­cluded in most of the lat­est af­ter­mar­ket satnav sys­tems, such as TomTom.

TheBMWsat­nav soft­ware has been avail­able in the 7 Se­ries sedan and 5 Se­ries wagon this year, but has now been with­drawn. BMW spokesman Piers Scott said the com­pany had not had any is­sues with the equip­ment func­tion­ing prop­erly any­where in the world, ex­cept Aus­tralia.

‘‘ The high num­ber of vari­a­tions of speed lim­its, es­pe­cially in ur­ban ar­eas, meant the ac­cu­racy wasn’t what it should be for aBMW prod­uct,’’ he said. ‘‘ Ac­cu­racy was still in the 90 per cent re­gion but, nonethe­less, there were enough lit­tle nig­gles and anom­alies for us to with­draw it.

‘‘ We’ve had [Ger­man] en­gi­neers here on three sep­a­rate oc­ca­sions fine-tun­ing the sys­tem, but it’s still not what it should be.’’

Scott saidBMWhadn’t per­ma­nently shelved the po­ten­tially life-sav­ing tech­nol­ogy for Aus­tralia.

‘‘ We are con­fi­dent we can over­come it. It is a prob­lem that is only oc­cur­ring in Aus­tralia. They’re happy else­where be­cause there aren’t the num­ber of changes in speed zones we have here.

‘‘ The tech­nol­ogy and data are no dif­fer­ent from other mar­kets, but here we have such a high level of vari­able speed zones, it’s strug­gling to keep up with it.

‘‘ And the very dra­co­nian way in which speed lim­its are pa­trolled here means there is no mar­gin for er­ror.’’

Com­mon­con­fu­sion: Chang­ing speed zones are blamed for de­priv­ing Aus­tralian mo­torists of driver safety aids

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