Autos

I was terrified when my £63k BMW X5 ‘took over and tried to hit speeds of 110mph’ on a 30mph road


A MOTORIST has described the terrifying moment his car shot up to 4x the speed limit after a technological mishap.

Stuart Greengrass, 71, activated the cruise control feature driving down his quaint village road in Essex.

Stuart Greengrass activated the cruise control feature driving down his quaint village road in Essex

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Stuart Greengrass activated the cruise control feature driving down his quaint village road in EssexCredit: Handout
The technological flaw forced the 71-year-old retired company director to brake quickly

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The technological flaw forced the 71-year-old retired company director to brake quicklyCredit: performancescience

Along the 30mph road in Great Wakering, the retired company director’s BMW X5 misread the road’s speed limit.

The car began to pick up speed, attempting to reach 110mph.

With minimal time to react, Greengrass slammed the brakes, throwing him back into his seat.

Speaking to The Times, Mr Greengrass said: “The car took off like a scalded cat.

“These are big, powerful cars and it accelerated very quickly and I felt the car had taken over. It was speeding away and I had to intervene very quickly to prevent the car from going to a dangerous speed.”

A dangerous case of deja vu struck on the Southend seafront with his wife, Sue.

Once again the car shot towards 100mph. Once again a bewildered Greengrass had to brake.

Cruise control is a feature which allows motorists to set a default speed limit and maintain it on the road.

More modern and technologically adept variations include BMW’s Speed Limit Assist.

These use GPS data and a digital map to observe the car’s position and log road speed limits.

WHAT IS CRUISE CONTROL? AND WHY CAN IT SOMETIMES GO WRONG?

Cruise control is an electronic system that enables you to fix a vehicle’s accelerator on 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 more modern versions of cruise control, the car uses GPS signals and cameras in the rear-view mirror to assess the road’s speed limit.

A technological flaw means the system can misread that limit.

From there, the Speed Limit Assist will drive at whatever arbitrary limit it thinks the road is, forcing the driver to step in and brake.

After complaining to his local dealership, a representative drove a different car fitted with the same technology on the same road.

Incredibly, the car zoomed towards the same 110mph target as Mr Greengrass’.

Citing a problem with the car’s sensors and that there was “no fault with the car”, Mr Greengrass was mystified.

He said: “BMW should be investigating this but they refused to look at my car even when it is registering speeds of 100mph. How they can say there isn’t a fault when they replicated the problem on another model makes no sense to me.”

BMW released a statement addressing the mishap.

The German manufacturer said: “If the driver chooses to enable the ‘adjust automatically’ functionality, it remains their responsibility to validate the decisions of the system. BMW Speed Limit Assist functionality is a driver aid and is not designed or marketed as an autonomous driving function and the driver remains responsible for ensuring they do not exceed the permitted speed limit.

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This is reiterated in the vehicle handbook. The cruise control speed limit is deliberately communicated to the driver at all times so that it can be reacted to quickly should the need arise.”

More modern forms of cruise control log road speed limits and never exceed them

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More modern forms of cruise control log road speed limits and never exceed themCredit: Handout





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