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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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  • Really? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by AnonymousClown ( 1788472 ) on Wednesday April 21, 2010 @10:14AM (#31922496)

    The AA said it would watch the system “carefully” but it did not believe there was anything sinister. “It is a natural evolution of the technology that is out there,” a spokesman said.

    Ones "Natural evolution" is another's slippery slope.

  • mythbusters (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Fëanáro ( 130986 ) on Wednesday April 21, 2010 @10:28AM (#31922702)

    The mythbuster episodes about speed cameras are horribly boring, since you know from the start that if they were to find something that actually works and is feasible, they would not be allowed to air it.

  • Re:Wait, What? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by wjousts ( 1529427 ) on Wednesday April 21, 2010 @10:28AM (#31922714)
    Nonsense. Fines for speeding will simply be increased to about £1,000,000. It'll pay for itself in no time.
  • by SleepingWaterBear ( 1152169 ) on Wednesday April 21, 2010 @10:32AM (#31922810)

    This isn't about speeding tickets. This is about creating a nationwide tracking system for Britain's highways. If they have cameras that can recognize license plates along Britain's highways, with all the information from all the cameras aggregated in one database, do you think they won't give the police access to this information to help track criminals?

    Given the recent history in Britain, it's a safe bet that the police will have immediate warantless access to this information, and thus the ability to track all the cars in Britain. I'm not sure this is completely a bad thing, but there are certainly some significant privacy concerns at play here. What if police officers decide to abuse this information? What sort of checks are in place to make sure it's only used for legitimate purposes? I could be wrong, and they might not be giving police access to the camera data, but, given the recent history, I would be shocked if they weren't.

  • by pushing-robot ( 1037830 ) on Wednesday April 21, 2010 @10:33AM (#31922826)

    Since the data sheet mentions that the cameras can endure long communications outages with the main network, they need a good way of tracking time. Putting a GPS receiver in to get accurate time signals may be cheaper than adding a very accurate clock.

    Embedding a GPS time code in images would also be more effective from a legal standpoint, since a defendant couldn't argue that the camera's internal clock was inaccurate.

    The cameras could also potentially determine their own location, saving a bit on installation costs.

  • by Rogerborg ( 306625 ) on Wednesday April 21, 2010 @11:05AM (#31923402) Homepage

    This is stupid.

    Well, I'm glad you're at least that self aware.

    A moment's thought would reveal that the road distance cannot be shorter than the straight line distance. If you set the cameras up to calculate speed based on the time and straight line distance, then the actual vehicle speed must be at least that speed or faster. They only have to show that you must have exceeded the speed limit, not exactly what speed you were doing.

    Roads may have different speed limits.

    Well, golly, you've got them there. There's no way they could set up the camera sites so that they can show that the calculated speed exceeded the maximum for any of the possible routes. I mean, an $80 SatNav can do those sort of devilish calculations, but no human is capable of such infernal feats of arithmagic!

  • by __aasqbs9791 ( 1402899 ) on Wednesday April 21, 2010 @11:07AM (#31923454)

    More people need to seriously consider things like this: What if your worst enemy had access to this info? The way governments work here in the US, generally in 4 to 12 years you'll have someone completely different in office (who still seems the same (wrong) in the areas I care about, damn it!) and they have at least as much authority as the previous guy (power creep tends to make it more). So whatever your political bent is, chances are you won't like someone in power pretty soon. Yet the fanatics over here never seem to consider that. I'm not sure how anyone can be a fanatic for either side of a coin, but that's another argument.

  • Re:easy solution (Score:2, Insightful)

    by brainboyz ( 114458 ) on Wednesday April 21, 2010 @11:08AM (#31923464) Homepage

    You assume speeding = reckless, which is not the case at all. Speeding above your own capabilities and those of the road and car is reckless, but speeding itself is not.

  • by AnnoyaMooseCowherd ( 1352247 ) on Wednesday April 21, 2010 @11:14AM (#31923568)

    To be honest I find this system better than the single-point checking systems that are also widely in use everywhere.

    • It's ok to speed for small stretches, for passing or from lack of attention to your speed
    • It enforces a lower speed over a longer stretch. You can't just slam on the brakes for a camera and speed up right after.

    I disagree. In all of this, the first premise you have to accept is that the speed limit is correct in the first place.

    In the UK we have something like 250,000 miles of roads and just 6 different speed limits. Now for every one of those quarter of a million miles of road to be set at a speed limit that is definitely not too low would be a miracle.

    The easier "catching" someone for speeding gets, the more it will be used for revenue raising. The fact that people may lose their jobs along with their licences seems to be irrelevant.

  • by iapetus ( 24050 ) on Wednesday April 21, 2010 @11:21AM (#31923692) Homepage

    Or drive at or under the speed limit. Why is it that people never seem to consider this simple solution?

  • by clone53421 ( 1310749 ) on Wednesday April 21, 2010 @11:22AM (#31923702) Journal

    Yes, and you could potentially design a camera that could be put wherever you want, paired with another camera also wherever you want, and the system would adapt to its new location automatically. The system could synchronize with the GPS signal, locate the cameras on their digital map, calculate the road distance between them, and know the speed limit of the road on which the cameras were placed... all automatically. They could move the cameras every day if they wanted to. The only thing that a human would have to do is to aim the cameras at the traffic.

  • by unts ( 754160 ) on Wednesday April 21, 2010 @11:25AM (#31923754) Homepage Journal
    I hate to pick on people, but seeing your command of English seems generally good here goes... irregardless is not a word. It's either "irrespective", or "regardless", not a redundant mash of the two as that would be redundant.

    (Yeah, that last bit was on purpose.)
  • by AnnoyaMooseCowherd ( 1352247 ) on Wednesday April 21, 2010 @11:37AM (#31923956)

    Whether you agree with a law (and a speedlimit is just that) or not is irrelevant

    Well let's bring back slavery then, that was legal once.

    The idea that you cannot question the validity of a law and the way that law is applied is not a position I am prepared to accept.

    By simply discussing the way a law enforced without discussing whether there is anything wrong with that law in the first place is, in my view, a very blinkered way of going through life and encourages bad laws to be passed as no one is going to question the law makers.

  • Re:Really? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by vikingpower ( 768921 ) on Wednesday April 21, 2010 @11:49AM (#31924106) Homepage Journal
    Technology does not have such a thing as "natural evolution". Technology's evolution is guided by human beings according to certain needs and rationales.
  • Re:Really? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by notommy ( 1793412 ) on Wednesday April 21, 2010 @12:00PM (#31924320)
    I think this sort of evolution is what is known in the communistical circles as a police state. I still don't know how the Brits deal with this much intrusion into their lives.
  • by holmedog ( 1130941 ) on Wednesday April 21, 2010 @12:01PM (#31924362)
    I'm going to have to try this broken link technique to get double rep...
  • by ZorinLynx ( 31751 ) on Wednesday April 21, 2010 @12:11PM (#31924582) Homepage

    Speed limits and speeding tickets are a huge scam. They are mostly in place to generate revenue, not improve safety.

    Speed limits should be abolished, and police officers merely told to pull over people who are driving recklessly. This would improve safety and eliminate some of the antagonism people have towards the police.

    I was recently ticketed for doing 56 in a 40 zone. The problem is this 40 zone stops at the bottom of a highway offramp. I would have had to slam on the brakes to get from 70 (highway speed) to 40 in the amount of distance I was given to do it. This might have caused me to get rear-ended. Yet there was a speed trap just in front of the end of the ramp. There was hardly any traffic. I wasn't being unsafe. Yet they stopped me anyway.

    They should go after the kids who do 90MPH in a 40 residential neighborhood with straight pipes on their cars making noise at 3AM. But there's not enough money in that.

  • by russotto ( 537200 ) on Wednesday April 21, 2010 @01:32PM (#31926576) Journal

    No, it has not gotten anywhere for one simple reason:

    People would stop using the FastPass and would return to cash.

    Right. Which is why they won't start doing it until pass-only routes become commonplace, so you can't return to cash.

  • by wastedlife ( 1319259 ) on Wednesday April 21, 2010 @01:41PM (#31926798) Homepage Journal

    I noticed that most new exits built in the past year or two in my area are pass-only. So don't downmod the parent as being paranoid. We need as many people as possible using cash-only so that it would be too much of a loss in profits for them to drop the cash lanes.

"my terminal is a lethal teaspoon." -- Patricia O Tuama