Speed bump tech slowly gains approval

Marketplace Staff Jan 18, 2010

Speed bump tech slowly gains approval

Marketplace Staff Jan 18, 2010


Steve Chiotakis: In Mexico, more cars on the road means more efforts to curb speeding. In many towns, speed bumps do a lot of the law-enforcing. And because they’re made of concrete and asphalt, they can do a lot of damage to cars. One man says he has a solution. From Toluca, Mexico, Franc Contreras reports.

Franc Contreras: Inventor Carlos Cano calls his latest brainchild the “Intelligent Speed Bump.” His prototype weighs in at 132 pounds. You need two men to carry it.

Imagine a regular speed bump made out of metal, not concrete. It has a gently-inclined front ramp that measures the speed of oncoming vehicles. If you drive the legal speed limit, no problem — the bump flattens out, and you feel almost nothing.

Carlos Cano: Yes, the next generation speed bump.

Despite Cano’s enthusiasm, independent engineering firms are cautious. They say the device needs more testing. We decided to take the “Intelligent Speed Bump” out for a road test of our own.

Here comes our first test case: a mid-sized vehicle driven by Toluca resident Beatriz Millan:

Beatriz Millan (voice of interpreter): Very smooth. I didn’t even feel the moment when my car passed over it.

Every driver who ran over the black metal device preferred it to the old-fashioned asphalt and concrete variety.

But neighbor Laura Juarez walks past the new fangled speed bump looking upset. She says the traditional speed bumps are still necessary in Mexico because they give reckless drivers a jolt.

Laura Juarez (voice of interpreter): In our neighborhood, they were holding drag races at 2 a.m. You needed the speed bumps. But the government fails to maintain them.

Now inventor Carlos Cano is looking for potential investors in the U.S. and Canada. He says moving his invention from prototype to manufacturing will cost about $100,000. But he’s hopeful.

Cano: You could see that everyone that crosses the smart bump, the second thing you will see is a smile.

Cano also wants to convince state government officials to buy tens of thousands of the devices. Then he wants to sell them around the world.

In Toluca, Mexico, I’m Franc Contreras for Marketplace.

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