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aido

New Speed Camera's In Cat's Eyes?

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http://www.nytimes.com/2004/05/13/technolo...its/13next.html

Looks like a British company just developed a cat's eye that has integrated camera's as well as loads of other gadgets - bet the government will be laughing all the way to the bank if they implement these :(

ABOUT 12 years ago, Martin Dicks was trapped in dense fog during a harrowing four-hour commute to his job as a firefighter in central London.

"Virtually all I could see on the road was a cat's-eye reflector every now and then," Mr. Dicks said, recalling his trip down one of Britain's major highways. "I figured that if I could make the cat's-eyes more visible, I could probably save more lives than I could in the fire service."

A back injury forced Mr. Dicks out of the fire department shortly afterward, giving him the time to pursue that goal. His training as an electrical engineer provided the necessary skills.

Now, after perfecting illuminated markers that are embedded in the road surface to guide motorists through bad weather or warn of dangerous conditions, Mr. Dicks's company, Astucia Traffic Management Systems, is going a step further. Its latest creation is an embedded stud equipped with a camera that catches speeders, monitors traffic for criminals or stolen cars and even checks for bald tires on the fly.

"Nobody knows it's a camera or a speed trap," Mr. Dicks said of his latest creation.

Mr. Dicks's original idea was quite simple in concept. He wanted to create an illuminated road marker containing its own power source, a solar cell. At night or in bad weather, light from approaching vehicles would generate enough power to light up the marker, which consisted of light-emitting diodes. An illuminated marker would be more visible than a plain reflector, and the idea was that a car passing over the markers would cause them to stay illuminated long enough so that they would provide a warning trail of lights for any vehicles close behind.

The trouble, at first, was the technology available in the early 1990's. Photovoltaic cells were not as efficient as they are today. And at the time, Mr. Dicks recalled, "the concept of a white L.E.D. was nowhere."

Working mostly with family members at first, Mr. Dicks produced a prototype marker within two years. He dodged the white L.E.D. problem by combining the glow from red, green and blue arrays. The group not only overcame the limitations of solar cells, but also managed to engineer markers that turned red to warn when the gap between two cars was dangerously small.

Mr. Dicks said the technology both impressed and alarmed British government highway officials.

"They were frightened about everyone using the product on roads from one end of the country to the other," he said. "They thought it would make their budgets disappear."

The first markers cost roughly twice the price of conventional embedded road studs. As a result, their use was restricted at first to especially fog-prone or dangerous sections of roads as well as crosswalks, including some in the United States.

Mr. Dicks was not the only person with a desire to illuminate to road markers. After a friend struck and killed a pedestrian in 1991 at a crosswalk in Santa Rosa, Calif., Michael Harrison developed a system that uses flashing L.E.D.'s in the road surface to make crosswalks more visible. The company he founded in 1994, LightGuard Systems, now has about 700 installations in the United States.

A study of 100 illuminated crosswalks by Katz, Okitsu & Associates, a traffic engineering firm based in Southern California, estimates that adding the blinking L.E.D.'s to crosswalks can reduce pedestrian accidents by 80 percent.

The original Astucia markers were glued onto the road surface. That left them vulnerable to snowplow blades and to constant pounding from car and truck tires.

Mr. Dicks wanted to put the markers into holes drilled into the road surface. The key, he said, was finding self-healing resins for the top lenses that would be flush with the surface and subjected to much wear and tear.

"It's like running your fingernail on a rubber sheet," he said of the plastics' behavior. "The mark it leaves goes away."

Advances in solar-panel technology also allowed Astucia to develop markers that could store electricity all day and then constantly illuminate particularly dangerous sections of roads at night.

Other features followed. Optical systems inside the casing are able to monitor the atmosphere for fog. Electrical resistance detectors can check for standing water. The addition of a thermometer allows the marker to predict ice.

But getting high-resolution digital cameras into the flush-mounted housings was a more difficult task. It ultimately required the development of a special series of lenses that in effect allowed the camera to look upward and forward from its subsurface location.

The cameras (the system can use either normal or infrared sensors) provide remarkably detailed images, according to Mr. Dicks. "You can clearly see everything underneath a vehicle, although I'm not sure why you'd want to do that," he said.

The police, however, are likely to be interested in seeing the license plates of vehicles traveling above the speed limit or through red lights. To that end, Astucia has developed a system that is operating on a highway in Scotland. It employs three embedded cameras to give front, rear and side views of passing vehicles. Other embedded sensors project two infrared beams over the road that are used to time traffic and determine its speed. The images and the speed data travel under the road by cable to a computer. It in turn relays the data by satellite to Astucia's offices.

The system is currently being used to monitor traffic slowdowns. When it detects them, it turns on illuminated markers farther up the road as a warning. Mr. Dicks said that its speed measurements were accurate within 0.5 percent, well within the tolerances demanded for traffic enforcement.

Similarly, he said, the systems can be combined with optical character recognition software to automatically track stolen vehicles or cars believed to be used by suspected criminals or terrorists.

The United States branch of Astucia began demonstrating the camera system - which costs about $50,000 for a package of three cameras, sensors and supporting electronics - to police and highway officials less than a month ago. John Kerridge, the subsidiary's president, reported considerable interest in the system for both traffic and broader law enforcement. But he added that public resistance could be one obstacle to its adoption.

"We all break the law regarding speeding," Mr. Kerridge said. "The system may leave a bad taste in motorists' mouths at the beginning. But when their insurance starts going down and stolen vehicles start getting recovered, the benefits will overcome that."

Edited by aido

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I think the idea of glowing cats eyes is a great idea, but not for surveillance use - would definately not like enforced speed limits on every road :crybaby:

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Its only now a matter of time, I watched a program on these recently and they have very clear benefits, and very clear draw backs

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Yes mate, from the sounds of it though, if the cameras are $50,000 for 3 then hopefully we won't see them everywhere!

Does sound good about the lighting as you say as well as the fog and distance monitoring.

Wonder where these are in use in Scotland - anyone know?

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Think it may be in Motherwell or there abouts also down in the London area. I saw a recent news item on these rascals & they will also be capable of monitering the depth of tread on the tyres if they pass over these studs aswel as registering the registration plate of the car.

Looks like we will soon be asked to pay out more in fines again etc... oh joy. But don't let it spoil your weekends. :crybaby:

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just take some putty and cover the cameras!

how daft... these surely would be vandelised?

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there is nothing that a bit of phosphate-ester hydraulic fluid wont cure :whistling:

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stuff that melts putty :D

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if u mean the hyd fluid - its a low weight fire resistant hydraulic fluid used mainly in aircraft hydraulic systems - but it has a MIL- spec number also so it can be used for military applications. not a pleasant substance causes liver damage, tumours, respiratory tract irritation, severe burning to eyes( no lasting damage) drying of skin etc but it will attack or melt nearly most types of plastic/paint, brass,copper,rubbers. if it would happen that some got onto a car, then the panel would normaly have to be dipped into an acid bath to properly remove it.

so it would make short work of a cats eye! :ph34r:

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poor cat... if i see a cat with tumours, liver probs and one eye I know robs been down this road with a can of phosphate-ester hydraulic fluid :D

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if u mean the hyd fluid - its a low weight fire resistant hydraulic fluid used mainly in aircraft hydraulic systems - but it has a MIL- spec number also so it can be used for military applications. not a pleasant substance causes liver damage, tumours, respiratory tract irritation, severe burning to eyes( no lasting damage) drying of skin etc but it will attack or melt nearly most types of plastic/paint, brass,copper,rubbers. if it would happen that some got onto a car, then the panel would normaly have to be dipped into an acid bath to properly remove it.

so it would make short work of a cats eye! :ph34r:

UK Mil SPEC DESIGNATOR.

OM 55

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just take some putty and cover the cameras!

how daft... these surely would be vandelised?

if you new which one it was...

also i dont think the cost will put of the local council or police, just look at how much revenue camera rake in..

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poor cat... if i see a cat with tumours, liver probs and one eye I know robs been down this road with a can of phosphate-ester hydraulic fluid :D

LMAO.......... :lol::lol::lol::lol:

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