New Ford car automatically obeys speed limits

Why Ford consulted with an ethicist to deal with driverless cars
Why Ford consulted with an ethicist to deal with driverless cars

Ford says it has the answer for speed demons who can't keep their gas pedals off the metal: A car that reads speed limit signs and automatically slows down.

Ford (F) says that the newest edition of its S-Max car has "a new technology that scans traffic signs and adjusts the throttle to help drivers stay within legal speed limits and avoid fines."

The new system, called the intelligent speed limiter, was unveiled by Ford of Europe in Germany on Tuesday. But Ford's European division said the technology will be available worldwide.

The S-Max can read signs with its traffic sign recognition system and adjusts for speed accordingly. And it doesn't need to pull down the brake to slow down the car.

"The system does not apply the brakes but smoothly controls engine torque by electronically adjusting the amount of fuel delivered," the company said in a press release.

ford speed limit render
Ford's new S-Max technology can read speed limit signs and automatically slow down the car.

Related: Google's driverless car starts rolling through London

But the fun isn't completely over for speedsters.

"Drivers can temporarily override the system by pressing firmly on the accelerator," said Ford.

The technology seems to be a step in the direction of the driverless car, also known as an autonomous car. While these cars have yet to hit the market, Audi unveiled one last year that reached 140 miles per hour with no driver at the wheel.

Google (GOOGL) and Nokia (NOK) have also been experimenting with driverless cars. Google's electric-powered LUTZ Pathfinder started rolling through London last month at a not-so-brisk 12 miles per hour, and the company plans to expand tests later this week.

Auto parts company Delphi has a driverless car, an Audi SQ5, that is currently driving cross-country. The car, which has several passengers, started on Sunday.

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