Are RFID License Plates Coming Down the Road

Posted by Ken Lynch on Mon, Oct 18, 2010 @ 12:18 PM

Or Will Google Cars Solve the World’s Traffic Problems?

Google License PlateRFID is used throughout many aspects of the production and use of automobiles.  By no means an exhaustive list, RFID is used to improve production logistics, automate access control and parking, secure border roadways, automate toll collection, support car share programs, manage traffic flow, facilitate electric car payments and track tools in construction vehicles.

With all of these processes made possible or enhanced by RFID, one has to wonder if RFID tags will some day become standard identifiers in all cars – much like a VIN number or license plate. This topic has been discussed for some time with legal and privacy rights taking the forefront of the conversation - and rightly so.  One potential and controversial use of RIFD in vehicles and on the roadside is designed to allow authorities to automate the monitoring of intersections and issue tickets without having to be on the scene.  Video and CCTV cameras are already being used for this purpose and RFID pilots have been conducted.  Honestly, I’m on the fence on this one.  I’d surely like to be able to plead my case to the officer on the scene.  However, I’d also like the repeat offenders who speed past the "Watch for Children" signs on my street to be severely and repeatedly fined, but the police in my neighborhood have been unwilling to conduct 24x7 surveillance!

Or maybe we don’t have to worry about any of this because Google is developing cars that drive themselves.  Using video cameras, radar sensors and a laser range finder, Google cars will take us where we need to go, safely and efficiently, and presumably within the speed limit and in compliance with all traffic laws.  Problems solved, right?  My commute will be shorter and while along for the ride I can use Google search on my Google phone and maybe watch a little Google TV before I’m automatically checked in at my destination using Google Places – anywhere on Google Earth.

All kidding aside, Google’s intentions are noble.  They believe self-driving cars can cut in half the 1.2 million lives lost each year in road traffic accidents and reduce carbon emissions by fundamentally changing how we use transportation. 

So where are you on all of this?  Would you be OK with an RFID infrastructure deployed in your neighborhood for traffic control?  How about on the highways?  What are your thoughts about Google cars?  Do the safety benefits proposed by Google outweigh the potential requirements to disclose more information about your personal travel?

Tags: RFID, Google, Automobile Production, Traffic Management

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