Traffic Camera Vendor Introduces New Measurement Technology Patent granted for vidar, a video based speed camera measurementsystem. Old technology has become new again as American Traffic Solutions(ATS) on Tuesday received a patent for a photography-based speedmeasurement system that dispenses with the need to use lasers,radar or in-pavement sensors to generate speed readings. ATS callsthe system “vidar” because it uses video sensing toestimate vehicle speeds. Fixed speed camera systems are commonly installed with lines on thepavement marking a fixed distance. By using time-stampedphotographs or video, it is possible to calculate how long it tooka vehicle to travel the given distance.
This provides a secondaryspeed verification to go along with the laser, radar or pavementsensor reading. The vidar system envisions a more powerful cameraoperating without any sensors able to track multiple vehicles.Built-in optical character recognition, maximizing the number oftickets issued. Though ATS received a patent for this discovery, the very firstspeed cameras developed in Europe in 1901 and used in Boston,Massachusetts as early as 1910, were built on the same premise.Instead of using computers and video, the devices exposed an image(or images) of a vehicle at two points along with a physicalstopwatch in the frame. ATS claims its implementation of this ideais unique.
“Because the recorded image frames are exactly the same framesthat could be used to calculate the vehicle speeds at roadside, thesystem can reproduce the same speeds for the vehicle whether thecalculation is done roadside or at a later time,” the ATSpatent application stated. “Therefore, unlike any other speedmeasuring device, the system according to embodiments of theinvention may provide a method for obtaining verifiable vehiclespeed information.” In defending this invention, ATS acknowledges the limitations ofexisting speed camera technology. “Although radar is accurate in determining the speeds ofrelatively isolated vehicles, it is less effective atdifferentiating various vehicles in a cluttered environment, due tothe relatively large beam size,” the applications stated.”In addition, personnel that operate speed measuring devicesare usually required to receive proper training on the correctoperation of the devices. However, even with all the precautiousprocedures to ensure proper functioning of speed measuring devicesin place, measurement errors are unavoidable due to the intrinsiclimitations associated with each speed measuring method.” Vidar is not without its own potential accuracy problems. Becausethe system relies on precise timing, an internal clock error couldproduce bogus speed measurements.
That is exactly what happened inVictoria, Australia when innocent drivers received tickets due to improper clocksynchronization . ATS trademarked “Vidar” in August 2008, but the Patentand Trademark Office declared the trademark abandoned on December6, 2011. ATS acquired the Vidar technology from Nestor TrafficSystems, a firm that ATS bought after Nestor became insolvent.
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