Too smart for us
Our constantly varying speed limits defeat the latest safety technology
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TheBMWsatnav software has been available in the 7 Series sedan and 5 Series wagon this year, but has now been withdrawn.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