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BMW plans speed limit lookout system

BMW is planning to use cameras in a bid to help motorists avoid speeding fines.

The company, which promotes its models as the ultimate driving machines, wants to fit tiny video units in windscreens to keep a look-out for speed limit signs that might be missed by the driver.

Driver assistance engineer Artur Russ said: "We already have a lot of information about speed limits in the satellite navigation systems we use, so it seems a good idea to top this up with an extra pair of eyes for our customers."

Tests carried out in Germany have proved the cameras are able to ‘see’ every kind of speed limit sign and replicate it on the instrument panel and in a head-up display beamed directly in the driver’s line of vision.

Russ said: "The idea is not for this equipment to be seen as a warning device – we regard it as providing additional useful information for the people who drive our cars.

"We want them to be better informed when driving on unfamiliar roads. The limit changes constantly, and if drivers are aware of how fast they can travel at all times, they will be less likely to break the law. You could say this is our answer to the speed detector."

Fitted in the centre of the interior mirror, the camera recognises all traffic signs at a distance of 30 to 50 metres, irrespective of how far they are from the road. And because it is unaffected by height, it also reads the variable speed signs used on motorways.

To be linked with a new lane departure warning system, the speed limit equipment promises to be relatively inexpensive when it becomes available next year.

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