A MOTORIST described the terrifying moment his car sped up to 4 times the speed limit after a technological mishap.
Stuart Greengrass, 71, activated the cruise control function while driving down the picturesque street of his town in Essex.
Along the 30mph highway in Great Wakering, the retired company director’s BMW X5 misread the highway speed limit.
The car began to pick up speed, trying to get to 110 mph.
With minimal time to react, Greengrass slammed on the brakes, throwing him back into his seat.
Speaking to The Times, Greengrass said: “The car took off like a scalded cat.
“These are big, powerful cars and they accelerated very quickly and I felt like the car had taken over. It was speeding away and I had to intervene very quickly to prevent the car from going dangerously fast.”
A dangerous case of déjà vu occurred on the Southend seafront with his wife, Sue.
Once again, the car shot toward 100 mph. Once again, a bewildered Greengrass had to brake.
Cruise control is a feature that allows motorists to set a predetermined speed limit and keep it on the road.
More modern and technologically appropriate variations include BMW’s Speed Limit Assist.
These use GPS data and a digital map to observe the car’s position and record speed limits on the road.
WHAT IS CRUISE CONTROL? AND WHY CAN SOMETIMES GO WRONG?
Cruise control is an electronic system that allows you to set a vehicle’s throttle at a specific speed. That speed is maintained and allows you to take your foot off the pedal.
But that process can go dangerously wrong at times.
In newer versions of cruise control, the car uses GPS signals and cameras in the rear view mirror to assess the speed limit of the road.
A technology failure means that the system may misinterpret that limit.
From there, Speed Limit Assist will drive to whatever arbitrary limit it thinks is the road, forcing the driver to step in and brake.
After filing a complaint with his local dealership, a representative drove a different car equipped with the same technology on the same road.
Unbelievably, the car came close to the same 110mph target as Mr. Greengrass’s.
Citing a problem with the car’s sensors and that there was “no fault with the car”, Mr. Greengrass was baffled.
He said: “BMW should be looking into this but they refused to look at my car even when it’s clocking 100mph speeds. How they can say there isn’t a fault when they replicated the problem on another model makes no sense to me.”
BMW issued a statement about the mishap.
The German manufacturer said: “If the driver chooses to enable the ‘auto tune’ functionality, it remains their responsibility to validate the system’s decisions. The BMW Speed Limit Assist function is an aid to the driver and is not designed or marketed as an autonomous driving function and the driver remains responsible for ensuring that the permitted speed limit is not exceeded.
This is reiterated in the vehicle manual. The cruise control speed limit is deliberately communicated to the driver at all times so that he can react quickly if the need arises.”