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GPS External Speed Control in Canada

Via Slashdot, a CNN story reports that:

Canadian auto regulators are testing a system that would enforce speed limits by making it harder to push down the car’s gas pedal once the speed limit is passed… [using] a global positioning satellite device installed in the car to monitor the car’s speed and position.

There’s more detail in a Toronto Globe & Mail story from last week:

While the idea appeals to some road-safety experts, even the researcher in charge of the project admits many drivers–some of whom have shown fierce resistance to photo-radar and red-light cameras–may balk at the science-fiction scenario of a machine forcing them to apply the brakes. “We are trying to assess the operational acceptance issues,” said Peter Burns, chief of ergonomics and crash avoidance with Transport Canada’s road safety directorate.

As with the External Vehicle Speed Control system proposed in the UK, public acceptance comes up again as the major sticking point. It does make me wonder why, if legislators really are so enthusiastic about reducing speeding, new cars are not simply fitted with speed limiters as heavy goods vehicles are in many countries. I believe that in Germany, new cars are electronically limited to an absolute maximum of 155 mph, avoiding the extra complexity of GPS. Perhaps it’s a revenue issue? If an automatic fine can be issued every time the driver is detected speeding, as well as increasing the resistance on the pedal, then there’s an incentive to push for an external control system over mere preventative measures.

The project will also test the Otto Driving Companion, a less intrusive and commercially available system designed by Persentech, a Winnipeg firm. The dashboard-mounted device also uses GPS technology, but only warns drivers with a voice alarm and a light when they start to speed…Company president Frank Franczyk said…conscientious customers appreciate the blue speed-warning light and even the voice that warns them they are going too fast. Some say their children speak up when they see the alarm go off.
“They say, ‘Hey mom, the blue light’s on. Why are you speeding?

Otto - image from Persentech

This is a lot more palatable–persuasive technology rather than an architecture of control. A precedent is the automatic pinging noise which a device fitted to Singaporean taxis produces if the vehicle exceeds the speed limit, discussed by Barry Nalebuff and Ian Ayres in the excellent Why Not? Nevertheless, as they note, it’s only one step from a warning light inside the car to a warning-light outside the car, which can easily be seen by the police, or other motorists, especially if that light latches, i.e. stays on even after the speeding has finished, to provide the ‘smoking gun’.

P.S. Apologies if this site seems to be focused too much on controlling speeding/vehicle tracking these last few days! It just seems to be in the news. The fact that Slashdot has to categorise the story in ‘Your Rights Online‘ is some kind of proof, at least, that there isn’t as yet a recognised terminology for these kinds of technologies. I’d like to think this site might change that.


  1. eleider

    This type of control should not be implemented, what happens if someones device ends up malfunctioning, they will cause problems. I think that this issue could cause problems. However, I just think its wrong for something else should be able to control your speed, aside from a well trained police officer.

  2. Amir Mohsen Omidvari

    Dear sir,
    I think a complete Automatic Vehicle Control System can be designed with GPS technology.In this system many parts of a vehicle control system can be defined.
    I have a complete plan to design this kind of system,but I do not know whether any system with these characteristics has alrady been designed or not.While I was searching to find similar systems I found your website.
    I will be so thankful and pleased if you make me known of this and also help me to complete my plan.
    Warm regards,
    Amir Mohsen Omidvari

  3. Robert Locke

    The idea has promise, but what is in it for me? I have given this concept much thought for many years. It seems that the common thought is that you must force us to have this device or else.
    This thinking is backwards.
    I would love to have a GPS speed control on my vehicle. The GPS monitors my current speed in the current speed zone and set the cars maximum speed limit accordingly. The GPS system would limit my maximum speed to 5 mph over the speed limit. There needs to be some flexibility for maneuvering. The GPS system would make it impossible to exceed the, 5mph over the limit, limit.
    So why would I be so excited to have one? With the GPS system enabled on my car I can save a large amount of money on my car insurance. Insurance companies offer a huge discount on vehicles with the GPS systems installed. I also would save money on gas, my family would be safer, and more money in my pocket in so many ways.
    The GPS system is a great idea as long as it does not infringe on my right of privacy. People will not stand for something that only has consequences with no benefits. A true win-win is the only solution. People gain benefits and people stop speeding. That is the reason countries are looking at this idea.
    In the long run there are many good effects: less accidents, less police needed to monitor speed control, greater over all fuel mileage, cheaper insurance rates, and more money in everyone’s pocket.

    Robert Locke

  4. kev

    What ever happened to the idea of.. a device fitted to a car on manufacture namely an engine speed control linked to the car computer and activated by a signal fitted to a roadside transmitter. As a car enters a predetermined speed zone and the reverse senario as the car leaves ?. No need for speed cameras, less need for police car chases and less chance of innoccent people being killed or injured…. kev

  5. Pingback: Worst news ever: Canada to implement speed limiting devices on all cars - Page 2 - Forums

  6. praseed

    any one knows about any solid progress in the automatic speed control as of now. i Think there is a BDM( body control module) in the car which is an electronic device and we need to make it listen to our signal to reduce speed. But is it possible to do that as it is the manufacturer who actually programs the BDM isnt it? i am not sure about this information…and please let me know if there is any significant progress in this filed as it surely has a huge market..

  7. Earl

    So I am passing someone with a car coming right at me and it limits my speed and I have a head on collision. This will NEVER get approved! How about a GPS system with spead alert on roads and a tolerance setting so that if I am over the tolerance speed (5km / hour) it warns me. Get this product working and you will have a ton of customers and it will be safe…

    (let me know if you find a product like I describe…






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