Automated toll collection, alcohol and fatigue detection was a project given to the engineering students at a university in India. They came up with a device similar to a snack vending machine, connected to two cameras, one distance sensor, one biometric finger print reader and one biometric retina reader1.
The automated toll collection and fatigue / alcohol detection system features:
- One camera to capture image of the vehicle as it approaches the toll booth
- Same camera also uses a sophisticated software to detect left-hand or right-hand drive
- Another camera captures license number and the software converts it into alphabets and numbers
- A coin collector that triggers the hardware to raise the barrier
- A biometric finger print reader
- A biometric retina reader that releases or locks the barrier
- A database
When a vehicle approaches the tollbooth, the distance sensor kicks in and triggers the cameras and main unit. One camera is backed up by sophisticated software that detects whether the vehicle is a right-hand drive or a left-hand drive and accordingly triggers the machine placed on the right side or left side of the approaching vehicle.
Another camera is placed in a bowl like depression in the middle of road and is angled slightly upward. This camera captures the license plate of the vehicle as it stops to pay the toll. Sophisticated software converts the license number into alphabets and digits. A human operator acts as a backup for vehicles having non-standard license plates2.
At the Tollgate
When the driver of the vehicle leans out of the window and inserts a coin into the tollbooth machine, he also needs to place any finger on the finger print reader. The retina sensor is placed right next to the finger print reader and detects whether or not the retina is able to focus clearly on the finger print reader. If the focus is fuzzy indicating that the driver is either very tired or is drunk, the barrier at the toll both stays locked, the alcohol detection and fatigue detection warning is sounded and the supervisor is notified.
If the license number indicates a stolen vehicle or a vehicle that has unpaid traffic fines or has been reported for other violations, the barrier stays locked and the crime violation alarm is sounded. Most tollbooths in India have either a police vehicle on standby or a small police station near it3.
Admittedly, the device in its early phases looks ungainly and ugly to say the least. However, the engineering students did build a highly functional device that worked well within the university campus. A few roads in Australia require toll collection and eventually this approach may be combined with other roadside testing programmes currently in effect in all states and territories nationally. The other advantage of course is the fatigue detection as well as the detection of traffic violators.
Eventually, the entire system could be fully automated and plugged into the national crime and traffic database so that the nearest traffic control is notified of any violations and the errant driver apprehended.
These are just some of the latest technological advances and ideas being developed globally in the war against drug and alcohol driving.
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Footnotes and references:
1. Automated toll and alcohol detection: http://www.seminarprojects.com/Thread-automated-toll-collection-and-alchcol-detection-using-psoc-full-report [Registration required]
2. Alcohol sensors in cars: http://www.visajourney.com/forums/topic/258201-mandatory-alcohol-sensors-in-all-vehicles-in-the-near-future/
3. Automated alcohol detectors: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/41317329/ns/business-autos/t/future-cars-might-decide-if-driver-drunk/