As cars become smarter than the people driving them and do more of the things humans should be doing for themselves — checking blind spots, watching for lane departures, anticipating collisions — it was only a matter of time before a car started reading road signs.
The "Traffic Sign Recognition and Lane Departure Warning" system available early next year on General Motors' new Euro-only Opel/Vauxhall Insignia scans the road ahead at 30 frames per second to read road signs and tell you when you're wandering from your lane.
The most innovative aspect of the system is the road-sign recognition processor, which can read signs as far as 100 meters away.
The system uses two processors and a camera -- called, appropriately, the Front Camera System -- mounted near the rear-view mirror. One processor identifies familiar shapes, symbols and digits on common road signs and conveys the information to the driver via a digital display in the gauge cluster. The other alerts the driver when he or she strays from the lane.
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