New Software Would Allow Drones to Read License Plates
In tests this fall, PlateSmart Technologies proved that it could take images from an unmanned system and analyze that information in real time, said the company’s chief executive officer, John Chigos. The company teamed with enrGies, a systems integration company from Huntsville, Alabama, which provided the quadcopter and sensors used in the demonstration.
The software reads incoming data from the drone’s camera and requires no additional hardware, which keeps users from having to overload the UAV with equipment that reduces the aircraft’s endurance, he said. PlateSmart executives plan to continue refining the software and testing it with a variety of unmanned aircraft.
“We’re working out a development schedule now on how to proceed to further mechanize this technology,” he said. “I would like to see this done in the next six to 12 months so it can be deployed.”
Potential military and homeland security customers would be able to use the software to log license plate numbers, identify the country or state of origin, and input GPS, time and date information. It could be automated to search for a particular license plate number or be employed to ferret out potential criminals, Chigos said.
“For instance, in Iraq we know that there are an undue number of counterfeit plates,” he said. “We can match those plates up against the registered databases of the actual registered vehicles in a state or a country, run it through and determine whether or not this is a plate that has legitimate credentials.”
The company is also developing a high definition version of the software that will allow it to read license plates on multiple cars at the same time, as well as to process data even when the license plate is only a small portion of the overall image.
“You don’t need to have a close up view of the rear section of a car or front end of the car where the plate is,” he said. “You can actually have a much broader overview of the image and the software will go through the necessary algorithms to extract information and process information and produce the digital data that we require.”