It is interesting to note where the kind of research I am doing is ending up in the real world. This technology from Siemens highlights the presence of speed limit roadsigns to the driver and interfaces with the cruise control system. Pretty cool.
In the future, a system from Siemens that automatically recognizes speed limits on traffic signs will make driving even more comfortable — and help motorists to avoid speeding tickets. The system works with a camera in the car that scans the scene in front of the car for traffic signs and forwards the information to an onboard computer. With the help of the cruise control, the system then keeps the car within the speed limit. The risk of unintentionally driving too fast is particularly high when motorists are in unfamiliar surroundings or faced with road construction sites.
Part of a comprehensive network of driver assistance systems called pro-pilot being developed by the automotive supplier Siemens VDO, the traffic sign recognition system is scheduled to go into series production in about two years. Experts from Siemens have installed the system in a luxury class car, along with a host of additional assistance devices, including a lane recognition system, a night vision system and a parking guidance system. Several automakers have already tried out the test vehicle and expressed strong interest in the recognition system.
The system uses a CMOS camera installed near the rear-view mirror to continuously scan the road for traffic signs. The images are then compared with patterns of speed limit signs stored in the system’s memory. If the software discovers a speed limit, the system notifies the driver of this fact by showing the value in the speedometer or in a head-up display. If the cruise control is switched on, the car automatically decelerates to stay within the speed limit. The system also uses data supplied by a navigation system to determine if the vehicle is being driven on a highway or in a town or city. And because the navigation system also contains information on special traffic signs — including those that impose speed limits only at certain times — the recognition system can also react to such situations. The traffic sign recognition system so far is designed for use in new vehicles; its many components’ complicated networking today makes retrofitting too expensive. (IN 2006.10.4)