What Is Intelligent Speed Assist (ISA) & How Does It Work?


We’ve all been there. You’re driving along, minding your own business, when you spot a police officer ahead. Even if you’re certain you weren’t speeding, your heart rate increases, and you find yourself nervous about getting pulled over. But what if there was a technology that could prevent you from ever getting a speeding ticket again?

Well, there is! It’s called Intelligent Speed Assist (ISA), a feature that’s slowly making its way into new cars. But what exactly is ISA, and how does it work?


What Is Intelligent Speed Assist (ISA)?

Intelligent Speed Assist (ISA) is a technology that uses video cameras or GPS-linked speed limit data to help drivers stay within the posted speed limit. In most systems, ISA will provide a warning when the vehicle is approaching or exceeding the speed limit.

Sometimes, ISA also acts as an automatically adjusting speed limiter, preventing the driver from accelerating beyond the speed limit.

How Does Intelligent Speed Assistance Work?

ISA systems use video cameras or GPS-linked speed limit data to detect the posted speed limit. Once the speed limit is detected, the ISA system will provide a warning to the driver if they exceed the posted speed.

For example, if the posted speed limit is 50 km/h. The ISA system would alert the driver if they were driving over 50 km/h. The driver would then have the option to slow down or ignore the warning.

There are four main types of ISA systems:

  • Cascaded Acoustic Warning: The cascaded acoustic warning ISA provides an auditory warning to the driver when the vehicle is approaching or exceeding the speed limit. It is regarded as an ‘advisory’ system, as drivers can easily ignore it.
  • Cascaded Vibrating Warning: The cascaded vibration warning ISA uses pedal vibration to provide a tactile alert to the driver when the vehicle is approaching or exceeding the speed limit. It is also an ‘advisory’ system.
  • Haptic Feedback: Haptic feedback systems rely on the acceleration pedal’s restoring force to provide feedback to the driver. When the driver exceeds the speed limit, the pedal will become harder to press, providing a physical cue that they are going too fast.
  • Speed Control Function: ISA systems can also be set to auto-adjust the vehicle’s speed to stay within the posted limit. This works by limiting the amount of power sent to the engine. This way, even if the driver tries to speed up, the vehicle will not accelerate beyond the posted speed limit.

All four systems are complemented by a visual display that alerts the driver of their speed in relation to the posted limit.

How Accurate Is Intelligent Speed Assistance?

ISA systems are generally accurate. However, there are a few factors that can affect their accuracy, such as:

  • GPS Signal Quality: Poor GPS signal quality can affect ISA systems that rely on GPS data for speed limit information. This is usually not a problem in urban areas but can be an issue in rural areas with a weaker GPS signal.
  • Camera Placement: ISA systems that use video cameras can be impacted by their placement. If the cameras are placed incorrectly, they may not accurately detect speed limit signs.
  • Weather: Weather can also impact ISA systems. If a road is wet, icy, or covered in snow, the ISA system may misread the speed limit.

What Are the Benefits of Intelligent Speed Assistance?

There are many potential benefits of using ISA, including:

  1. Reduced Speeding Tickets: An obvious benefit of ISA is that it can help drivers avoid speeding tickets. By constantly monitoring the speed limit and reminding drivers to stay within the limit, ISA can help drivers avoid costly fines.
  2. Improved Safety: Over speeding is a leading cause of road accidents and fatalities. ISA can help make roads safer by ensuring drivers stay within the posted speed limit.
  3. Reduced Fuel Consumption: speeding uses more fuel than driving at a steady, legal speed. ISA can help drivers save money by preventing them from speeding and wasting gas.
  4. Lower Insurance Premiums: insurance companies consider speeding to be a high-risk behavior. By using ISA, drivers can prove to their insurance company that they are less likely to over speed, leading to lower insurance premiums.
  5. Reduced Emissions: In addition to saving money, ISA can also help reduce a vehicle’s emissions. This is because speeding uses more fuel and produces more emissions than driving at a steady speed.

Are There Any Drawbacks To Intelligent Speed Assistance?

While ISA does have many potential benefits, there are also some drawbacks to consider, including:

  1. Big Brother Is Watching: Some drivers may not like the idea of a “big brother” type system constantly monitoring their speed. This could be seen as an invasion of privacy.
  2. Lack of Enforcement: ISA is only effective if drivers actually obey the warnings and limit their speed. Some drivers may still choose to speed, even with ISA, if there is no enforcement.
  3. Intrusive Warnings: Some ISA systems can be quite intrusive, with loud warnings that can be hard to ignore. This can be a problem if the driver is trying to concentrate on other tasks, such as navigation.
  4. Potential for False Alerts: ISA relies on video cameras and GPS data to detect speed limits. This data is not always accurate, which could lead to false alerts. Additionally, ISA may struggle with adjusting to temporary changes in the speed limit, such as those that occur in construction zones.
  5. Inaccurate Speed Limits: Most ISA systems rely on posted speed limit signs to enforce the speed limit. But what happens when the speed limit poster is damaged or not legible? This could lead to ISA enforcing the wrong speed limit, which could cause problems for drivers.

Can You Turn ISA Speed Limiters Off?

Existing ISA systems can be turned off by the driver. However, following the EU ruling that all new cars introduced in the region must have ISA, it is unclear if drivers will have the same ability to turn off the system in the future.

ISA Will Make Roads Safer

While many drivers are unsure of what Intelligent Speed Assistance is and how it works, the benefits of this system are clear. By alerting drivers when they’re speeding, ISA can help save lives and money. ISA has some drawbacks, but the potential benefits far outweigh the negatives, especially when considering that the technology is still new and will improve with time.


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