In-Car License Plate Reader Powered by AI
Fri, December 9, 2022

In-Car License Plate Reader Powered by AI

 Axon Enterprise Inc. have developed an in-car license plate reader that is powered by artificial intelligence. / Photo by Akhararat Wathanasing via 123rf


Axon Enterprise Inc., a company that develops technology for law enforcement and civilians, recently said in a press release that they have developed an in-car license plate reader that is powered by artificial intelligence. Such technology will enable police officers vehicles that are equipped with AI cameras to instantly scan and process the license plate data of every car it sees on the road.

The company believes that with such technology, the police officer no longer has to be unnecessarily distracted when they are on the road by looking up at the vehicle information manually.


Integrating automated license plate recognition tech

Axon announced that they will be integrating automated license plate recognition technology or ALPR into their in-car video system called the Axon Fleet 3. It will give the ALPR technology artificial intelligence power to keep communities safe. Axon’s founder and CEO Rick Smith said that the tool can help officers apprehend criminals, recover stolen cars, and even find missing kids. 

The CEO explains that although others may have concerns about privacy protection, data security, and the constitutionality of search operations on the road, they embrace their “ethical obligation” by keeping the technology with privacy safeguards. They also acknowledge how to address important things along with the implementation of the technology, such as data ownership and data retention. This, he said, is a way of having an ethical framework that will also avoid the misuse of their technology.


The in-car video technology of Axon can already read the plate number of vehicles within 30 feet distance as part of their Fleet 2 product.  / Photo by Dmitry Kalinovsky via 123rf


Fleet 2 vs. Fleet 3 product

The in-car video technology of Axon can already read the plate number of vehicles within 30 feet distance as part of their Fleet 2 product. It has night-time visibility features and Multicam ability.

Now, with their Fleet 3 product, there is an added artificial intelligence capability of automatically differentiating the law-abiding plate numbers and flagging those considered as “plates of interest.” Police cars equipped with such technology can then set up alerts for vehicles that are connected with or suspected to be involved in human trafficking, vehicle theft, and other breaches of the law. 

Since it is the artificial intelligence that is doing the work of differentiating these plate numbers, the police officers can remain focused on their jobs. For example, it eliminates the need for officers to manually type into their computers while also having to look up at the vehicle plate number.

The only concern, for now, is that the technology is not yet regulated by the government. Nevertheless, Axon has acknowledged the fact that their technology may be subjected to abuse from other parties so they will be laying down the guidelines on how the system will function. Smith concluded that they have not and will “never ever sell public safety data.” He said that their company recognizes that the data collected by the technology will be owned by the country’s public safety agencies as well as the communities that these agencies serve. Furthermore, the data should not be resold to any private entities as their interests may not be aligned for the interest of the public.

New York University of Law’s founder of the policing project and the Jacob D. Fuchsberg Professor of Law in the said school Barry Friedman, who is also an ethics board member, said that if the government will continue to “abdicate” its responsibility of regulating such a technology in an appropriate way, then it would be incumbent on the part of firms like Axon to make sure that it will serve the people who are subject to automated license plate recognition.



AI’s use in preventing crimes

There is a good reason why the government and companies nowadays are interested in using artificial intelligence to prevent crime. In the United States, for instance, total spending on policing are detailed as follows per city: New York City ($4.89bn/8.2 percent of the general fund expenditure on total police budget), Los Angeles ($1.4bn/25.7 percent), Chicago ($1.46bn/39.6 percent), Houston ($850.4m/35.0 percent), Baltimore ($480.7m/25.6 percent), Detroit ($310.2m/30.0 percent), Oakland ($242.5m/41.2 percent), Atlanta ($218.3m/29.7 percent), Minneapolis ($163.2m/35.8 percent), and Orlando ($153.8m/32.3 percent). The data of the selected cities was based on the Center for Popular Democracy, Law for Black Lives, and Black Youth Project 100.

As long as the technology is managed well, it is believed that technology can help reduce crime not only in the US but other parts of the world too, and not only in terms of plate number detection. In India, for example, AI has been used in fingerprint analysis and recreating a person’s face based on the skull for crime investigation. They refer to it as a “modern forensic method.” In Bhubaneswar, India, the state police have used the technology to improve crime data analysis by generating a checklist of information that their investigation officers can use. If procedural mistakes are committed by any officer, the AI also immediately sends an alert so that the officers can make an accurate and quick search for a certain crime.