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Closely Watched Vehicles
June 29, 2012   
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It resembles an ordinary speed camera, but is far smarter: the Comprehensive Intelligent Vehicle Identification System is a tool that helps find stolen cars, aids border guards and checks whether trucks are overloaded.

The camera registers the speed and registration number of the vehicle. At the same time, it identifies the type of the vehicle, its make, model and color. The system can also be used to determine the weight of passing vehicles.

The data is automatically fed to a central statistical system via the internet or General Packet Radio Service (GPRS), which compares it with the database of stolen vehicles. If the vehicle is in the database, the system will immediately alert the police, border guards, the security services, or the customs service.

The system recognizes vehicle features that are normally not registered by ordinary speed cameras.

The system has been developed by a team of experts led by Michał Karkowski at the Road and Bridge Research Institute (IBDM) in Warsaw. While working on the system, the engineers took thousands of photographs of different cars and built a detailed database. They later wrote a computer program that makes it possible to compare a car in a photo with the models in the database. According to the designers, the system distinguishes between different types of vehicles with almost 100 percent accuracy, and it distinguishes the make and the model with up to 95 percent accuracy.

All these activities are automatic and continuous, without the need to stop traffic, the engineers say. If the system were installed in police cars and in vehicles used by security services or road transport inspectors, for example, it would make it possible to immediately identify suspicious vehicles in traffic. It could be used to spot drivers jumping a red light and violating parking regulations, and it could also help monitor the haulage of hazardous cargo.

“With this system, road transport inspectors could zero in on vehicles suspected of being overloaded to prevent damage to roads,” says the Road and Bridge Research Institute’s Jacek Trzyszkowski.

According to Trzyszkowski, if used on a large scale, the system could help improve road safety, reduce the number of traffic offenses and cut vehicle theft. “There’s enormous interest in the system, especially among local governments,” Trzyszkowski says.

Karkowski says, “There are more orders than we expected. We have already implemented the system in Warsaw, Płock, Bydgoszcz, Włocławek and Jelenia Góra. We are continuing to negotiate and sign new contracts.”

The project was developed at the IBDM in cooperation with Neurosoft, a company founded by graduates and former employees of the Wrocław University of Technology and the University of Wrocław in southwestern Poland.

Anna Łyczewska
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