BOXBERG, Germany – Robert Bosch GmbH has a new device that may keep lead-foot drivers out of trouble with the law.

At the supplier's test track here, Bosch demonstrates its roadsign recognition system on a Mercedes-Benz S-Class. A complementary metal oxide semiconductor (CMOS) camera placed below the rear-view mirror surveys the road ahead and is programmed to identify speed-limit and other traffic signs.

Bosch system recognizes speed-limit signs in Europe (above) as well as those in U.S.

For the demonstration, the prototype Mercedes S-Class is set up with a black-and-white video display of the road ahead, with the roadsign highlighted in color. Once identified, the vehicle gives audible notification to the driver: “Speed limit, 50.”

The system works as intended, notifying the driver each time the speed limit changes. The device could be handy in city traffic, where speed limits frequently change, often on the same road.

It can be programmed for a customer's preference. For instance, a visual notice can be given to the driver, rather than an audible one. Plus, the system can be programmed to notify the driver only if the vehicle is exceeding the speed limit by 5 mph or 10 mph (8 or 16 km/h).

Speed-limit signs across Europe may use slightly different type styles, but their basic designs are the same: round and white, with black type and a red ring around the perimeter. In the U.S., speed-limit signs generally are rectangular, white and black. The device is designed to detect either type.

Bosch says the CMOS camera has high dynamic range, allowing it to work equally well at night or during the day, as well as in snow and rain.

Bosch is unable to talk about the system's cost because it does not yet have a customer. However, several auto makers have expressed interest in the technology, which is nearly ready for production.