If the phrase Intelligent Speed Assistance Technology (ISAT) doesn’t even enter your consciousness – let alone come tripping off your tongue – then all that is about to change…..
What is ISAT?
Before taking a look at how ISAT is going to affect motoring, let’s look at what it actually is and does. With the word ‘Assistance’ as part of its title, at first glance it looks like it is going to be something helpful, and in many respects this might be the case. However, in this instance, what the word assistance really means, is limiting, because the technology is actually there to limit driving speeds and thus to make motoring safer.
What does it do and how does it work?
So, ISAT is actually technology that combines information that comes into your vehicle through GPS location, to read speed limits and ultimately to control the speed at which your vehicle can travel, relative to the speed limit where you are at that moment.
You might already have some of it in your car. If you do, it is likely to take the form of something that looks like a speed limit sign, that pops up on your dashboard, and changes according to the speed limit of the stretch of road on which you are driving.
It’s quite useful to glance down and see a reminder of the speed limit where you are, and to be notified if you are over that limit, however the latest technology goes much further than this. It actually takes control of your car’s throttle and can reign in your speed if you are over the speed limit, stopping you from speeding. The car effectively will decide what speed you can do, irrespective of what you want!
Since July 2022, in the EU at least, this technology has become mandatory on every new model of car introduced. So, as old models are phased out over the next couple of years, their replacements will all be fitted with ISAT as standard, and indeed, from July 2024, all new cars for sale will also need to have the technology.
Of course, the UK is no longer part of the EU, so what about British motoring?
The chances are that British motorists will not be exceptions to having ISAT in their vehicles as standard, because manufacturers are unlikely to want to remove the technology for Britain-only, so the cars bound for the UK are likely to still feature ISAT – and the British Government, with an eye on road safety, is also not going to want to buck the European trend for ISAT.
For those who see the technology as another example of ‘Big Brother’ not only watching you, but also driving your car for you, it hasn’t quite got that far, yet, because all of the current crop of ISAT-compliant vehicles have the option to turn off the technology. Some will argue that is how matters should remain forever – however, the predictions are that ISAT will reduce road deaths by 20%, at a stroke, and ultimately, through using this type of technology and other new-technology safety measures, the EU has targeted zero deaths on the roads of its member countries by 2050. Safety campaigners will almost certainly make a case, therefore, off the back of such figures, for ISAT control to be mandatory everywhere.
Future plans and requirements
The technology, however, as something that is relatively new, is still being developed and is still evolving, with the expected glitches having already materialised. Examples of such issues are systems confusing MPH with KPH and vice-versa, as well as road signs being damaged and therefore not triggering the technology, and, of course, GPS mapping will also be subject to change and sometimes it can be out of date on the system you use. And, of course, you need to have good wi-fi reception to make the whole thing possible, so it is by no means a perfect system yet, but the technology will, no doubt, continue to evolve and improve over time.
Many cars are already fitted with ‘black boxes’ and we can expect more of this, together with other measures, such as breathalyser checks being part of your vehicle’s starting procedure and devices that detect fatigue also being part of your day-to-day driving experience. We have already experienced a degree of autonomous ‘hands-off’ driving capability on Teslas and other cars. So, the days of ‘Big Brother’ not only watching you, but actually being your chauffeur, may be drawing ever nearer…