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TfL to test speed-limiting tech this summer

A six-month trial of the Intelligent Speed Adaptation tech will start this summer, with the aim of exploring ways of reducing road deaths
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Written by Natasha Lomas on

Transport for London has confirmed it will road-test speed-limiting technology within the M25 area.

As reported by ZDNet UK's sister site silicon.com last year, TfL announced a six-month trial of the Intelligent Speed Adaptation (ISA) tech will start this summer, with the aim of exploring ways of reducing road deaths. The transport organisation is investing £45m in road safety in London in 2008/09, up from £18m in 2000.

ISA utilises GPS location positioning tech and TfL's digital speed-limit map of London to determine when to limit a driver's acceleration so he or she keeps within the speed limit. The limiting feature can be disabled, at which point the device will merely advise the driver of the current speed limit and warn them if they exceed it. There is also an override switch that will disable the unit entirely.

A London bus, a licensed taxi and 20 TfL vehicles used by its road engineers, traffic managers and highway inspectors are likely to be involved in the trial. As well as monitoring driver behaviour, TfL said it will look at how journey times and CO2 emissions are affected by drivers who don't exceed the speed limit.

Chris Lines, head of TfL's London Road Safety Unit, said the technology is already proven, but the aim of the trial is to learn how drivers in all types of vehicles respond to the tech.

"ISA is intended as a road safety device but if Londoners embrace this technology we may well see additional benefits including reduced congestion as a result of collisions and reduced vehicle emissions as drivers adopt a smoother driving style," Lines added in a statement.

The results of the trial will be published in Spring 2010 and the tech will then be made available to external organisations. It could also be commercially available in 2010, according to TfL, which is urging GPS manufacturers to take advantage of its digital speed limit map and incorporate speed limit displays and warnings into their products.

TfL added that Southwark Council has expressed an interest in using ISA. Councillor Jeff Hook, executive member for environment at Southwark Council, added in a statement: "This technology could revolutionise the way we keep our roads safer in Southwark, and that's why we're really interested in this trial. If it's successful, we hope to kit out our entire fleet of nearly 300 vehicles as soon as funding allows."

If two-thirds of London drivers use the ISA system, the number of road casualties in the capital could be reduced by around a 10th, TfL added.

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