Evolution of Automatic Number Plate Reading Systems

Evolution of Automatic Number Plate Reading Systems
Evolution of Automatic Number Plate Reading Systems

The Automated Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) system was initially used in 1979 in the UK. Currently, it has been used globally for traffic monitoring, law enforcement, and smart parking. It has been helpful in various areas of application which we will discuss further.

What is the ANPR System? 

The Automated Number Plate Recognition System is a cutting-edge computer-vision based technology which can detect vehicles automatically by recognizing and recording number plates of a vehicle through video surveillance and imaging cameras. The ANPR system is an image processing system which uses surveillance cameras, OCR, and data processors to read, store, and identify images of license plates through CCTV cameras. 

The camera is a vital component of an ANPR system. It uses a lot of image manipulation techniques based on algorithms to enhance and detect the number plate images. Then, it uses OCR to decode alphanumeric data from the number plate. The intensity of light is controlled by infrared and it works round the clock. The camera and ANPR hardware are integrated with a frame grabber. This way, the software can read the data in the image to store and process it. 

Evolution of ANPR System

With the advancement of technology, ANPR technology has drastically evolved over the years. These days, surveillance is no longer limited to CCTV cameras. Cellular devices, sensors, and algorithms are used for recognition. 

The detection accuracy of ANPR has been improved drastically with faster data processing and high-resolution image sensors. The software capabilities have improved drastically with advancements in performance. Hence, it improved activity alerts and post-capture results. These days, the surveillance industry is going beyond cameras. It can now be done through smart devices. 

It is no longer restricted to proprietary hardware which was very expensive. The first ANPR systems had a very humble beginning with resolution in usually SIF or CIF and power of 33 Mhz Intel 486 or lower configurations. 

These days, smart parking operations are mainly based on recovering stolen cars by identifying license plates. The ANPR systems in the 1990s were probably the first to adopt AI in smart transportation. Officers can easily get real-time alerts about the whereabouts of lost vehicles with ANPR systems on the streets. 

Areas of Application

Thanks to enhanced IP-based networks and increasing digitization, ANPR systems have been used widely. Along with law enforcements, there have been different areas of its application – 

  • Electronic Toll Collection – It becomes easier to determine the amount of toll collected and verify the ticket with the ANPR system. 
  • Traffic Control – ANPR technology is widely used to analyze historical data thanks to traffic control systems, such as the density of vehicles on the road, use of car parking, etc. These systems can get real-time data about the speed and flow of vehicles on the road to ensure smooth traffic management. This way, vehicles can easily be moved according to the limit.
  • Speed Maintenance and Access Control – There are added advantages of ANPR cameras over traditional CCTV cameras when it comes to controlling the max permissible speed of vehicles for a long period of time. ANPR has been used widely in access control. In secured complexes, gates can open automatically for authorized access only. Hence, it can save valuable manpower. Whenever required, the exit and entry details are recorded and retrieved. 

ANPR in Future

Manual checking for parking breaches and permits to ensure parking management can affect customer convenience and compliance rate adversely. It can also increase the operating cost of parking lots. 

This way, the Automatic Number Plate Recognition system can help facility managers to make data-driven decisions with the help of parking patterns and historical stats in occupancy. The ANPR system is a one-time investment. Along with saving on manpower costs, it can also help enforce several parking rules. 

Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence is the next big thing in Automatic Number Plate Recognition in the near future. It will further improve the accuracy of scanning. It will also be accessible through mobile devices. This technology is going to stay for longer.