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New Speed Cameras Catch You From Space 351

A new kind of speed camera that uses satellites to measure average speed over long distances is being tested in Britain. The "Speedspike" system combines plate reading technology with a global positioning satellite receiver to calculate average speed between any two points in the area being monitored. From the article: "Details of the trials are contained in a House of Commons report. The company said in its evidence that the cameras enabled 'number plate capture in all weather conditions, 24 hours a day.' It also referred to the system's 'low cost' and ease of installation." I can't wait to see the episode of MythBusters where they try to avoid getting a speeding ticket from a satellite.


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New Speed Cameras Catch You From Space

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  • Horribly misleading (Score:5, Informative)

    by pushing-robot ( 1037830 ) on Wednesday April 21, 2010 @10:16AM (#31922528)

    The cameras are here on earth. They're just synchronized using GPS so the system can tell how long a vehicle takes to go from one checkpoint to the next.

    Data sheet

  • by pushing-robot ( 1037830 ) on Wednesday April 21, 2010 @10:17AM (#31922538)

    Sorry about the broken link. The data sheet is here []

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 21, 2010 @10:31AM (#31922762)

    Here is about 100 pictures of Big Brother devices destroyed by fire.

  • Re:mythbusters (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 21, 2010 @10:46AM (#31923038)

    As opposed to topgear, which proved you can speed fast enough to get past the speeding cameras

    (spoiler: you have to go REALLY fast)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 21, 2010 @10:54AM (#31923202)

    it can't know what your top speed was at any given point in time

    I don't know why you think this is a problem. A police officer with a radar doesn't necessarily know your top speed either.

    what if you go twice the speed limit for a while, and then stop for a while to throw off the average

    Congrats, you found the trick! You have to do this between every checkpoint though.

  • by ChipMonk ( 711367 ) on Wednesday April 21, 2010 @10:56AM (#31923236) Journal
    I live near a toll road. The state highway patrol will issue a ticket to you, if your average speed between your entry and your exit on that road is over the speed limit.

    Hence, it's always a good idea to take at least one 10- or 15-minute break at a rest stop, while on that road.
  • by yesod ( 25715 ) on Wednesday April 21, 2010 @10:58AM (#31923268)

    They fixed this in law. The ticket is sent to the registered keeper of the vehicle. If the registered keeper wasn't driving, they have to say who was. If they don't, they get prosecuted under section 172 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 - "Failing to provide Driver Identity".

  • by ectoraige ( 123390 ) on Wednesday April 21, 2010 @11:09AM (#31923468) Homepage

    They don't have to know what route was taken. All they need to know is the fastest time you can possibly make the journey between points A and B without exceeding the speed limit, irregardless of routes. Sure, if somebody takes a few detours at twice the speed limit the system might not catch them.

    They don't have to have a solid number for your velocity. All they need is to show is that it was not possible to make the journey you made in the time you did without speeding. For the system to work as an effective deterrent it would make sense that the cameras are at regular intervals. Otherwise a driver might get away with doing 100mph for a period after being stuck behind a tractor for some of the journey. I expect to see apps for sale that will tell you what speed will keep you within the average allowed on your route.

  • by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Wednesday April 21, 2010 @11:23AM (#31923722) Homepage

    Better solution, fresnel lens. it significantly reduces the off axis legibility. use one that is only an inch off the plate and even a few degrees off center will be obscured and blurry.

  • by natehoy ( 1608657 ) on Wednesday April 21, 2010 @11:27AM (#31923798) Journal

    The position and distance between the two camera checkpoints on Earth is known.

    Except for portable speed cameras, which I suspect is what this technology is all about. Actually, upon further reflection, this is probably more about eliminating the speed detection technology, and replacing it with simple "point-a-to-point-b" measuring.

    A GPSr chip is cheap, easy to use, and makes a camera aware of its own location. Hell, we've got consumer pocket cameras in the $300 range that can geotag images using a built-in GPS now. And I think that's what they are looking at here - eliminating the speed measurement portion and just making them cameras (and therefore a lot cheaper). It'll save them a lot of money, and allow them to put up much smaller and more subtle cameras. Plus, there's nothing for the driver to detect (RADAR, etc). It's a passive optical camera.

    Have a camera take pictures of all of the cars driving by a specific section of highway, each picture geotagged with where and when it was taken (times and locations determined via GPS connection). Put another camera 10 miles down the same highway with the same technology. If you photograph a car (regardless of speed it was going at the time it was photographed) at the first point, then photograph the same car 5 minutes later 10 miles down the road, you know that car has been averaging 120MPH to get from point "a" to point "b".

    The interesting part about this is that there's no real way around it. With conventional speed cameras, technologies like "trapster" can alert you to speed traps (or a RADAR detector can figure out if speed-measuring technology is in use) and you can slam on the brakes long enough to go by the trap at legal speed, then roar back up to speed as soon as the danger has passed. With average-speed measuring, if you get to your destination faster than the laws of physics would have allowed you to while maintaining a legal speed, the system knows you've been speeding, and if they can demonstrate you moved between the two locations at impossible speed, there's no defense involving bad speed detection equipment, etc. You covered 10 miles in 5 minutes. That can be easily demonstrated, easily proven, and you're just going to have to cough up the dough.

    It's not totally unbeatable, it's just impractical to defeat it. I mean, technically (assuming a 60MPH speed limit) you COULD drive down the highway at 120MPH for an hour like a crazed weasel on crack, then park your car by the side of the road just before the speed camera for an hour to kill the time and get your average speed to 60, but then what's the point? It's still taken you two hours to reach your destination. You might as well just drive at 60MPH for the two hours and get there with more fuel in the tank.

  • by delt0r ( 999393 ) on Wednesday April 21, 2010 @11:29AM (#31923820)
    Any radio system can't be accurate to the nanosecond without position information relative to the transmitter, since light can only travel about 30 cm in that time. DCF77 is no exception.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 21, 2010 @11:40AM (#31923992)

    This is about creating a nationwide tracking system for Britain's highways.


    Have you all been living under a rock?

  • by natehoy ( 1608657 ) on Wednesday April 21, 2010 @11:57AM (#31924256) Journal

    Yes. If I recall the case correctly, his defense was that he could not have committed the murders because he was so far away, but the prosecution subpoenaed his FastPass logs and discovered that he not only drove up the highway on the day of the murder, but that the timing of his FastPass use coincided with the time of the murder.

    Keep in mind, though, that he was not convicted based on this evidence. He was convicted based on a bunch of other evidence. His primary defense was disproved using this evidence.

    There was also some talk a while back about using FastPass logs to issue speeding tickets. If you got from Exit 12 to Exit 77 in under one hour, you covered 65 miles in under an hour. If the speed limit is 65MPH, at some point you were speeding, or you've invented wormhole navigation or teleportation technology. You can either demonstrate your new technology or pay the fine for speeding. I don't know if that's ever gone anywhere.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 21, 2010 @12:13PM (#31924658)

    The system is already partially in place. Every time you go through an "average speed limit" area, your plate is scanned and held on a database.

  • by Kijori ( 897770 ) <ward.jake@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Wednesday April 21, 2010 @01:13PM (#31926082)

    Given that the penalties for obscuring your licence plate are more severe than those for speeding it might be better to employ something a little less obvious to other drivers.

Testing can show the presense of bugs, but not their absence. -- Dijkstra