Geofencing concept map

Ford trials geofencing technology to automatically control vehicle speed

Image credit: Ford

Car-maker Ford is trialling technology that can slow down vehicles to reduce speeding and to remove the need for speed limit signs.

Ford is trialling an innovative geofencing technology - a type of virtual geographical boundary - where special rules can be set around specific locations.

The company is hoping to be able to ensure that internet-connected vehicles automatically adhere to set speed limits in specific areas. By controlling vehicle speeds, the vehicle manufacturer aims to reduce the need for speed limit signs, as well as helping users avoid inadvertently breaching those limits. 

In Europe, as many as 29 per cent of road fatalities are pedestrians and cyclists and many local authorities are setting up 30km/h (approximately 20mph) zones to reduce the risk to pedestrians in urban areas, particularly around schools, hospitals and shopping areas. 

“Geofencing can ensure speeds are reduced where, and even when, necessary to help improve safety and create a more pleasant environment,” said Michael Huynh, Ford of Europe’s manager for city engagement in Germany. 

Car crossing a speed limit sign

Ford's geofencing tool in action /Ford

Image credit: Ford

The speed limit information is set to the vehicle’s dashboard display so the driver is aware of the change, which can be manually overridden if needed, the company said.

Currently, Germany has over 1,000 types of road signs, while in the UK it is estimated that the number of road signs has doubled in the last two decades to around 4.6 million in total. With the implementation of this new technology, Ford hopes to contribute to the decluttering of roadsides. 

The car giant is currently testing the technology in Cologne, Germany. The trial is expected to run for a year using Ford's all-electric E-Transit van, although the company expects to be able to use the technology in passenger vehicles in the near future. 

“Connected vehicle technology has the proven potential to help make everyday driving easier and safer to benefit everyone, not just the person behind the wheel," Huynh added. 

In the future, Ford is looking towards using the system dynamically, so that speed limits can be set and altered depending on local hazards, roadworks or to deal with traffic at different times of the day.

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