updated 10/18/2006 9:55:14 PM ET 2006-10-19T01:55:14

Sorry, Smokey. Speeding tickets might become yesterday's headache for drivers who use an automatic speed-limit detection system in the works from German electronics giant Siemens AG.

The system, expected to debut in as-yet-undisclosed cars in 2008, includes an onboard camera that reads speed limit signs. After it spots a sign, the system uses the car's navigation system to check whether the number it detected is plausible: Should the speed limit really be 55 in this urban zone?

Once the limit is established, the system can alert drivers in a display beamed onto the windshield that they're going too fast. Motorists also can let the system tap into the car's cruise control and automatically reduce the speed to the posted limit.

The system won't, however, automatically raise a car's speed to match a suddenly higher limit.

Does this get us closer to a car that can be put entirely on autopilot?

Siemens spokesman Enno Pflug doubts it. In the clear blue sky, putting a plane in a computer's hands is a pretty safe endeavor. Training a machine to adapt to the weaving, halting congestion of life on the road is another matter.

Not to mention that few drivers likely want to just sit there.

"Our aim is more comfort for the driver," Pflug says, "who also likes to drive."

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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