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Ford’s S-Max watches the speed limit so drivers can watch the road

Even the most vigilant driver gets a speeding ticket once in a while, especially in Europe where the rules either change or become more strict depending on which country or even region you happen to be passing through. It’s often hard to keep track of these things, so Ford is introducing a technology that helps with keeping an eye on the speed so drivers can focus on the task at hand.

Debuting in the S-Max, the Intelligent Speed Limiter is more than just setting a fixed velocity on your cruise control. Like the cruise control, through, the driver sets a maximum speed when they activate the system. It then uses cameras and sensors to identify road signs, detecting what the current speed limit is, and adjusts things accordingly as you drive. It alerts you to other road sign warnings as well, like if the area restricts overtaking, for example.

S-MAX Intelligent Speed Limiter

When the car happens to start accelerating beyond the 5 mph tolerance, the system smoothly slows it down by electronically reducing the fuel delivery to the engine, gently reducing the torque. If it’s a decent down a hill that’s causing the speed, it won’t apply the brakes, but it will alert the driver with an alarm and dashboard message. Of course, in the event that something has happened on the road and the best way to avoid an incident is a burst of speed, the speed limiter can be overridden with a firm press of the accelerator.

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Cars with navigation will also tie in to the system, which will come into play most prominently on country roads where road signs are much more sparse.

The new tech will be available in Europe this summer when it rolls out in the S-Max. Depending on its effectiveness and popularity, it’s not impossible to see a similar system making its way into Fords on our side of the ocean.