With the global Traffic Management market forecast to be worth over £45bn by 2026[1], investing in road transportation solutions is a priority for law enforcement, local authorities and private estate management companies worldwide.

Modern technology is revolutionising the way in which road networks are being developed and run, with AI playing a large role in automating safety and compliance on our streets.

ANPR

Automatic number plate recognition (ANPR), or automatic licence plate recognition (ALPR), is the use of cameras and optical character recognition (OCR) software to read vehicle licence plates and, in some cases, determine resulting action. This is one of the more traditional technologies used in road transportation and has been around since the early 1980s.

One or more high-resolution cameras are positioned to capture vehicle plates – the more cameras that are used, the more angles and surrounding detail that can be covered. Many cameras include a day/night mode so they can operate in the dark or in conditions of reduced visibility, such as fog. Our imaging business unit, Active Silicon, manufactures a range of compact, powerful autofocus-zoom cameras with up to 40x zoom and resolution up to 4K. Harrier camera interface boards extend the video output options of Harrier HD block cameras to 3G-SDI, USB3, HDMI, MIPI CSI-2 and networked cameras with Ethernet IP output.

Steatite can further support camera systems with components including GPS clocks to add accurate time and date information and PNT hardware to clarify precise positioning. Accelerometers, in combination with positioning data, can determine speed.

These products are specifically built to withstand the challenging environment of roadside operation and to function reliably 24 hours a day for years. Many Steatite products are certified to e-Mark standards, meaning they are safe and compliant for use in moving vehicles.

Traditionally, image and video data was captured for processing at a later date. More recent developments mean that processing can be applied onboard or adjacent to the camera, interpreting data at the Edge. The use of AI algorithms enable camera systems to take action based on the data collected, such as raising a barrier for certain vehicles but not others, or alerting law enforcers to cars that may be on the road illegally.

Embedded computers offer an extremely reliable and flexible option for providing in-the-field and mobile data processing. For example, Axiomtek’s NVIDIA® Jetson AGX Xavier™ AIE900-902-FL computer is a fanless, compact and low-power AI system for intelligent edge applications, machine learning and computer vision. Its extensive IO options plus additional expansion slots combine with the 32GB 256-Bit LPDDR4x memory to provide a perfect solution for ANPR requirements.

To implement traffic and transport AI solutions, our computer experts recommend the Jetson Xavier NX AN810 Industrial Carrier Board. Its compact size of just 120mm x 120mm defies its huge processing power, housing a 6-core NVIDIA Carmel ARM®v8 CPU and 384-core NVIDIA Volta™ GPU with 48 Tensor Cores. Its operating range of -20 to +70°C means it won’t be troubled whatever the weather throws at it.

If space is limited, the small but mighty Cincoze DI-1100 8th Gen Core i3/i5/i7 Industrial PC is ideal for traffic and road transportation, security and surveillance, as well as industrial applications, logistics and warehousing, IoT deployments, and other applications.

For ANPR and traffic applications requiring computing power that’s guaranteed to be available for a number of years, Steatite’s 1U shallow depth industrial rack-mount computer features a 10th gen Intel Core i3/i5/i7/i9 CPU and up to 2x PCIe x8 slots. Furthermore, Steatite engineers can fully customise IO options, chipset, expansion selection and design to suit your exact requirements.

Improving road safety

The combination of advanced vision systems and powerful processing capability can help to keep road users safe in all conditions. Applications such as red-light monitoring, average speed cameras and red X lane monitoring on smart motorways are just an example of where Steatite’s expertise and rugged hardware can deliver additional safety and security to road transportation.

Tolls and road charging

Vision systems for road transportation also cover the ability to monitor and control operations such as toll booths and congestion zone charging. ANPR techniques are used to identify vehicles and data processing platforms can generate charges or penalty notices as appropriate. Again, high-speed, high-resolution cameras are needed along with the ability to capture and process large amounts of data while protecting this data from leaks or hacks. To be effective, systems must be able to provide indisputable confirmation of a vehicle’s movements, owner’s details and even emissions.

The new generation of intelligent tolling systems relies on GPS tools or onboard RFID tags to understand the movement of cars and trucks. The idea is that they’ll bring an end to the use of barriers and gates at toll points, allowing the free movement of vehicles on roads across the UK and Europe. This in-vehicle technology needs to be compact and reliable and is building on established e-ticketing systems.

Going green

Environmental management is a huge concern for designers of modern transport networks. Governments and scientists around the globe are investigating ways to apply technology for greener road usage, and monitoring air quality at the roadside is a fairly simple yet effective method to enforce lower vehicle emissions.

Sensors to detect pollutants such as sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, ozone and carbon monoxide can provide data to be processed in real-time and solutions implemented such as automated roadside mist cannons, which produce mist to dissipate particles when limits hit a predefined level. ANPR systems are also in place to capture the identity of polluting vehicles and fines are issued when travelling within a low emission zone.

Road transportation solutions from Steatite

Our team has a wealth of experience in designing systems and solutions for road transportation. Read more about our expertise in this sector Traffic & Road Transportation and contact us with your traffic challenge.