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New Speed Cameras Catch You From Space

samzenpus posted more than 4 years ago | from the no-place-to-run-or-speed dept.

Privacy 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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Really? (3, Insightful)

AnonymousClown (1788472) | more than 4 years ago | (#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.

Re:Really? (1)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 4 years ago | (#31922610)

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

A slippery slope into the claws of Skynet! This is how it starts people ...

Re:Really? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31923358)

But YOU'LL be in control of Skynet, right?

Re:Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31923684)

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

And one's "slippery slope" is another's "natural evolution". Who are you to say?

TROLL (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31922498)

FIRST POST!!!

Horribly misleading (5, Informative)

pushing-robot (1037830) | more than 4 years ago | (#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

Re:Horribly misleading (4, Informative)

pushing-robot (1037830) | more than 4 years ago | (#31922538)

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

Re:Horribly misleading (5, Funny)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 4 years ago | (#31922554)

Drat. And here I was hoping that MythBusters really would try to debunk that myth, and in typical fashion conclude the episode by blowing the satellite out of the sky.

Re:Horribly misleading (1)

rvw (755107) | more than 4 years ago | (#31923308)

Drat. And here I was hoping that MythBusters really would try to debunk that myth, and in typical fashion conclude the episode by blowing the satellite out of the sky.

I think this would significantly advance privately funded space programs. Nothing motivates people (the male kind) more than destructing speed camera's.

Re:Horribly misleading (2, Funny)

Kazymyr (190114) | more than 4 years ago | (#31923408)

If you mount your license plate on a spinning frame and make it rotate clockwise at 66 RPM, while at the same time rotating in front of it a sheet of polarized glass at 45 RPM in counterclockwise fashion, you make it much harder for any camera, satellite- or ground-based, to capture an image of it.

Just a hint. [/tongue-in-cheek]

Re:Horribly misleading (3, Interesting)

Lord Lode (1290856) | more than 4 years ago | (#31922588)

The position and distance between the two camera checkpoints on Earth is known. And the time when you're at both checkpoints is known. Seems like a simple calculation to me. Why is there a satellite needed for this?

If it were a camera on the satellite that recognizes the plates, now that would have been scary!

Re:Horribly misleading (3, Funny)

wjousts (1529427) | more than 4 years ago | (#31922690)

To compensate for continental drift?

Re:Horribly misleading (4, Funny)

CFD339 (795926) | more than 4 years ago | (#31923490)

I once had a 77 Chevy Vega. Continental Drift could actually have had a significant percentage impact on overall speed.

Re:Horribly misleading (2, Interesting)

Captain Centropyge (1245886) | more than 4 years ago | (#31922744)

My guess is they'll use some kind of straight-line calculation with compensation built in for taking roads rather than actually driving in a straight line in order to estimate someone's speed. But how can they really prove anything when they have no idea what route was taken and how fast the car actually went? Technically all they're doing is taking a photo of something in two different spots at two different times. There's nothing being done to actually measure speed directly. How do they come up with such an algorithm or calculation? Roads may have different speed limits. Unless they have speed cameras on every single road, there's no reliable way to actually come up with a solid number for their velocity. This is stupid. And I wouldn't be surprised if someone managed to get it tossed into obsolescence fairly quickly.

Re:Horribly misleading (4, Insightful)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 4 years ago | (#31923402)

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!

Re:Horribly misleading (2, Informative)

ectoraige (123390) | more than 4 years ago | (#31923468)

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.

Re:Horribly misleading (1)

feepness (543479) | more than 4 years ago | (#31923652)

But how can they really prove anything when they have no idea what route was taken and how fast the car actually went?

Especially the part where I loaded the car onto a car carrier just after point A and unloaded just before point B and THAT'S what actually exceeded the speed limit.

Re:Horribly misleading (1)

Jezza (39441) | more than 4 years ago | (#31922758)

Actually joining up the "sightings" of the car is pretty scary. I can see huge potential for abuse of this information either in realtime or retrospectively.

Re:Horribly misleading (1)

rwa2 (4391) | more than 4 years ago | (#31922870)

Actually joining up the "sightings" of the car is pretty scary. I can see huge potential for abuse of this information either in realtime or retrospectively.

Actually, I think it will be extremely fun to get identical plates on similar cars and see how fast I can convince the system the car was traveling...

Re:Horribly misleading (2, Funny)

fotbr (855184) | more than 4 years ago | (#31922938)

I like the way you think. How many people are going to be driving cars with a cardboard version of Gordon Brown's tag taped over theirs?

Re:Horribly misleading (5, Funny)

hcpxvi (773888) | more than 4 years ago | (#31922968)

Well, in the UK a trailer has to have a plate on the back that matches that of the car that is towing it. But it is quite common to see trailers with two plates on: the regular owner's plate stuck on quite firmly and that of the bloke he lent it to tied on with a piece of string. I therefore anticipate a rash of incidents where a trailer gets lent to someone and the owner then gets a £50000 fine and 3000 points on his licence for exceeding the speed of sound in a built-up area.

Re:Horribly misleading (3, Funny)

Aceticon (140883) | more than 4 years ago | (#31923498)

- Saving from getting the trailer as a loan from a friend: £500
- Savings in Hotel costs while on vacations: £2000
- Having your friend fined from crossing the UK faster than the speed of light: priceless

Re:Horribly misleading (2, Interesting)

Glonoinha (587375) | more than 4 years ago | (#31922940)

This is already happening in the US.
They convicted a guy in Florida of a murder that happened in the NorthEast (like NY or Boston or something) based on his FastPass hitting the toll booths between the two. Granted it wasn't camera shots per se, but the technology is there and they are using it.

Re:Horribly misleading (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31922802)

tracking your time between two checkpoints might be able to determine that you were speeding, but can it determine how MUCH you were speeding in between the two checkpoints? what does it do, take the average speed and base your ticket on that? if there are several levels of penalties for progressively higher speeds, how does it choose which ticket to give you? it can't know what your top speed was at any given point in time - what if you go twice the speed limit for a while, and then stop for a while to throw off the average?

Re:Horribly misleading (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#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.

Re:Horribly misleading (2, Informative)

ChipMonk (711367) | more than 4 years ago | (#31923236)

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.

Re:Horribly misleading (1, Insightful)

iapetus (24050) | more than 4 years ago | (#31923692)

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

Re:Horribly misleading (2, Interesting)

jochem_m (1718280) | more than 4 years ago | (#31923262)

We have average speed checking systems here in the Netherlands, and it just works on averages. They pick stretches of road that don't have the opportunity to stop, or leave the road, and take your average speed. So, if the limit is 60, you drive 80 for the first half, realize you're being clocked, and drive 40 for the second half... no ticket.

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.

Re:Horribly misleading (2, Insightful)

AnnoyaMooseCowherd (1352247) | more than 4 years ago | (#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.

Re:Horribly misleading (2, Insightful)

pushing-robot (1037830) | more than 4 years ago | (#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.

Re:Horribly misleading (1)

Marcika (1003625) | more than 4 years ago | (#31922956)

[T]hey 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.

That can't be the reason; synchronizing to DCF77 time by radio is accurate up to the nanosecond and has been since 1973 -- and the receivers literally only cost pennies.

Re:Horribly misleading (3, Interesting)

vlm (69642) | more than 4 years ago | (#31923360)

That can't be the reason; synchronizing to DCF77 time by radio is accurate up to the nanosecond and has been since 1973 -- and the receivers literally only cost pennies.

Perhaps the GPS clock works better than a DCF77 clock at high temperatures... like when the gatso is set on fire... See pics:

http://www.speedcam.co.uk/gatso2.htm [speedcam.co.uk]

Also, Conrad's 641138-89 DCF77 module is more like ten pounds, rather than "literally pennies" or whatever. At that price, what the heck, may as well upgrade to the GPS unit, especially if there are later plans to use the location data for something (tagging the ticket? Automatic distance determination to do the V=d/t calculation? Who knows?)

Re:Horribly misleading (1)

KDN (3283) | more than 4 years ago | (#31923426)

The devices probably use GPS to get a time and location fix. Later on they probably upload data to a central computer that figures out who has to be speeding based on the maps between the various points.

Have to wonder if these guys are using GPS receivers that are resistant to spoofing. You could really screw with the speed calculations if you make the unit think its somewhere else, or slew the time. A common theme in comp.risks is that designers of new products often rush to get products out to market, and don't think of how their systems can be abused until afterwords.

Re:Horribly misleading (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31922834)

The position and distance between the two camera checkpoints on Earth is known. And the time when you're at both checkpoints is known. Seems like a simple calculation to me. Why is there a satellite needed for this?

To synchronize the time (via GPS) between the cameras so that the calculations are accurate.

Re:Horribly misleading (4, Funny)

oldspewey (1303305) | more than 4 years ago | (#31922846)

Why is there a satellite needed for this?

Because just like how adding bacon makes any food better, adding satellites makes any technology better.

Re:Horribly misleading (1)

hcpxvi (773888) | more than 4 years ago | (#31922864)

My guess is that the GPS allows all the cameras on the system to have their clocks synchronised to the required level of accuracy. (GPS works by the satellites having atomic clocks on, after all). It may also provide accurate locations for each camera. Taken together with a digitised road map (to account for the fact that roads are not straight) you could then do the required calculation without having to measure the road distance between each pair of cameras.

Re:Horribly misleading (2, Insightful)

clone53421 (1310749) | more than 4 years ago | (#31923702)

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.

Re:Horribly misleading (1)

SleepingWaterBear (1152169) | more than 4 years ago | (#31922924)

The position and distance between the two camera checkpoints on Earth is known. And the time when you're at both checkpoints is known. Seems like a simple calculation to me. Why is there a satellite needed for this?

I'm just guessing here, but satellite communication is one of the easier ways to do relatively low power long distance communication between far away places where it's uneconomical to run cable (do newscasters still report by satellite when they do on site reporting?). Assuming running cable isn't cost effective, really, the options are satellite, or cell tower communication (straight radio transmission over long distances requires a lot of power).

Not positive why they're not taking advantage of the cell towers, but maybe they didn't want to deal with private companies, or maybe they want to have cameras in places too remote to have cell coverage.

Re:Horribly misleading (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31922934)

"Is known" to what precision? If a ticket gets contested, they'll have to prove that the calculation is accurate, and saying "Joe adjusts the wall clock to his watch every month" won't cut it.

Re:Horribly misleading (1)

SmallMonkeyPirate (932116) | more than 4 years ago | (#31923014)

The speed cameras are mobile units, the cameras that are in fixed positions are well documented (or vandalised) and so to catch people temporary speed traps are set up. This will allow them to be configured with an accuracy acceptable to the courts. Should there be any doubt as to the accuracy of the equipment used, any good or even crap barrister would be able to get the charge quashed by the judge in lieu of any other evidence (skid marks, etc).

Britain is a strange country for cars, the cramped roads cause a lot of hate AND cameraderie amongst drivers. When the law changes whole groups of motorists will get together to try to test and break it when the day before they were leaning on horns and swearing at each other. Any loophole will be jumped on en masse and so accuracy is paramount with regards to technology used for speed traps. This is all mainly Jeremy Clarkson's fault.

Re:Horribly misleading (1)

T-Bone-T (1048702) | more than 4 years ago | (#31923194)

Because the time isn't actually known. If Camera A records a vehicle at 16:41:38, according to its own, clock and Camera B records the vehicle exactly 1 mile later at 16:42:35, according to its own clock, the vehicle seems to be traveling at a certain speed that is not known to the driver. What if the vehicle was actually driving at 60mph? What if Camera A's clock is fast and getting faster or Camera B's clock is slowing down? By using a satellite to provide the time, all cameras have the same time and that time becomes known.

Re:Horribly misleading (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31922648)

Nice example of how people can misinterpret an article VERY easily. All you need to add is a picture of a satellite.

But actually an orbit based speed camera could only register vehicles with their registration number on the roof -- the police, fire dept.,... maybe? ;-)

Re:Horribly misleading (2, Funny)

Thanshin (1188877) | more than 4 years ago | (#31922670)

He's right. The cameras are ground based.

The satellite is only needed in case a repeated offender has to be nuked from space.

Re:Horribly misleading (1)

mapkinase (958129) | more than 4 years ago | (#31923108)

So they track our movements now and if you moved from checkpoint A to checkpoint B too fast, they will fine you?

Why not just give everybody a radio bracelet so they can monitor our jaywalking, visiting potential terrorist friends, and basically how often we take number 2.

Only a GPS satellite (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31922546)

The only thing in space here is a GPS satellite. The speed cameras only work on the ground and use GPS to determine its location

easy solution (5, Funny)

Madman (84403) | more than 4 years ago | (#31922548)

Are you kidding?

1) find the GPS receiver
2) shoot GPS receiver with .50 Desert Eagle semi-automatic pistol
3) write a letter to Gordon Brown telling him to fuck off

Re:easy solution (1)

TheThiefMaster (992038) | more than 4 years ago | (#31922726)

You missed the step about smuggling a Desert Eagle into the country.

Re:easy solution (1)

Madman (84403) | more than 4 years ago | (#31922768)

Well, I could fall back on the ABFH method in a pinch

Re:easy solution (2, Funny)

Captain Centropyge (1245886) | more than 4 years ago | (#31922800)

Yes, I hear they're endangered!

Re:easy solution (1)

bigpistol (1311191) | more than 4 years ago | (#31922958)

4) Profit!

Re:easy solution (1)

ZeroExistenZ (721849) | more than 4 years ago | (#31922900)

Or install a GPS jammer in your car.

In Belgium they're doing the same thing with video-analysis on "checkpoints" where they have traffice-cameras. At these locations (not gps) on which data they calculate your average speed. If you've been speeding on the trajectory, you'll be fined. No workaround yet, other then maybe a licenseplace SQL injection attack [areino.com] .

Re:easy solution (1)

Albanach (527650) | more than 4 years ago | (#31923004)

Why would it need to keep a constant GPS signal? Is the camera moving?

Re:easy solution (1)

ZeroExistenZ (721849) | more than 4 years ago | (#31923146)

My point was that the system in Belgium isn't using GPS as the locations of the cameras are known...

Re:easy solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31923048)

You really shouldn't skip step zero

0) Follow the law and don't put other people at risk with your reckless driving.

Re:easy solution (2, Insightful)

brainboyz (114458) | more than 4 years ago | (#31923464)

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.

Re:easy solution (1)

Dylan16807 (1539195) | more than 4 years ago | (#31923694)

As far as I'm concerned, the safest and expected way of driving is slightly over the speed limit, matching the speed of most other drivers.

Re:easy solution (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 4 years ago | (#31923444)

Are you kidding?

1) find the GPS receiver
2) shoot GPS receiver with .50 Desert Eagle semi-automatic pistol
3) write a letter to Gordon Brown telling him to fuck off

As a quick examination of

http://www.speedcam.co.uk/gatso2.htm [speedcam.co.uk]

will show, the S.O.P. is to place a tyre around the camera and ignite. You see, you have to pay to purchase ammunition, but worn out tyres are free.

Re:easy solution (1)

cgfsd (1238866) | more than 4 years ago | (#31923478)

Simpler way, tin foil.

Cover the GPS in enough of it and no more signal.

Just make sure to save enough tin foil to make a good hat to cover your head.

Re:easy solution (1)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 4 years ago | (#31923506)

Actually, the two most popular methods of damaging the GATSO speed cameras currently in use are either throwing a tyre over the supporting arm and filling it with petrol, or drilling a hole in the side of the case and filling the body with expanding insulating foam. I hear that both are quite effective. Somebody also suggested elsewhere wrapping clingfilm around the whole thing; Even one layer is enough to foul the image to the point of the plate being unreadable.

Guns aren't needed, just a little ingenuity :)

Will rain fade make so you can speed in the rain a (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 4 years ago | (#31922602)

Will rain fade make so you can speed in the rain and not get a ticket?>\

Re:Will rain fade make so you can speed in the rai (1)

Jezza (39441) | more than 4 years ago | (#31922804)

Err, no. But it does make it more likely you'll crash and die - a sure way to avoid the ticket (or at least it's "ill effects" - the "death" thing kinda sucks though)

Re:Will rain fade make so you can speed in the rai (2, Funny)

dotancohen (1015143) | more than 4 years ago | (#31923440)

Will rain fade make so you can speed in the rain and not get a ticket?

Only in a real heavy downpour, and you need to be flying (at least 120 KPH). Be careful not to slow down for "obstacles" such as turns and bumps, or they'll read your plate. Let us know how it works out.

Misleading Post (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31922652)

This is a very misleading title. Combining GPS with a speed camera is not particularly surprising unless the camera is in a moving vehicle. Proving that someone had taken a particular route would also be impossible. I'm not particularly excited about this one.

Wait, What? (1)

chaoticgeek (874438) | more than 4 years ago | (#31922654)

How the hell can this be considered low cost and easy to install? I thought that sending things into space was expensive and since we strapped it to a rocket and waited for the fuel to explode that would not be very easy. And tickets from space seems a little unnecessary to me.

Re:Wait, What? (2, Insightful)

wjousts (1529427) | more than 4 years ago | (#31922714)

Nonsense. Fines for speeding will simply be increased to about £1,000,000. It'll pay for itself in no time.

Re:Wait, What? (1)

macneile (1544119) | more than 4 years ago | (#31922750)

Agreed. Totally unnecessary. Tickets from space would just mean police officers on Earth aren't doing their job.

Re:Wait, What? (1)

Captain Centropyge (1245886) | more than 4 years ago | (#31922828)

It likely uses existing GPS technology. I doubt a new satellite is required. But it likely requires more speed cameras to be installed. Sounds like someone's paying off politicians to boost business for speed cameras..? *puts on tin foil hat*

Re:Wait, What? (1)

T-Bone-T (1048702) | more than 4 years ago | (#31923224)

They are already in space. They are just adding GPS receivers to the cameras to synchronize the times.

mythbusters (3, Insightful)

Fanro (130986) | more than 4 years ago | (#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:mythbusters (2, Interesting)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 4 years ago | (#31923028)

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.

Except they did find and air one way: The changing plate system. Even more illegal than speeding though...

Re:mythbusters (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31923038)

As opposed to topgear, which proved you can speed fast enough to get past the speeding cameras http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ph-qv4gYAE8

(spoiler: you have to go REALLY fast)

Re:mythbusters (4, Interesting)

jochem_m (1718280) | more than 4 years ago | (#31923088)

Top Gear tends to be better at busting car myths than Mythbusters... Take the driving-behind-a-jumbo-flips-your-car myth for example... Mythbusters couldn't find a jumbo jet, so they used a much less powerful jet turbine. Then, the had to rig a complicated remote control system to the car so they could drive it... Top Gear got a jumbo, put a steeringwheel lock on the car, tossed a large brick on the accelerator, and presto, the car flipped behind the jumbo jet!

Re:mythbusters (4, Interesting)

Colonel Korn (1258968) | more than 4 years ago | (#31923354)

Top Gear tends to be better at busting car myths than Mythbusters...

Take the driving-behind-a-jumbo-flips-your-car myth for example...

Mythbusters couldn't find a jumbo jet, so they used a much less powerful jet turbine. Then, the had to rig a complicated remote control system to the car so they could drive it...

Top Gear got a jumbo, put a steeringwheel lock on the car, tossed a large brick on the accelerator, and presto, the car flipped behind the jumbo jet!

I saw that episode of MB, and it bugged me like almost every episode does. MB is a nice concept but they tend to simplify their problems poorly, keeping superficial elements the same and approximating away some of the key factors they should be testing. As an experimentalist, watching MB is often painful.

Re:mythbusters (1)

murphyd311 (1364187) | more than 4 years ago | (#31923720)

Why not? "To Catch a Thief" shows how to commit robbery and that is also aired by the discovery channel.

Some Brits might fight back.. with fire (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31922762)

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

http://www.speedcam.co.uk/gatso2.htm

VASCAR? (1)

wagnerrp (1305589) | more than 4 years ago | (#31922774)

This sounds no different from VASCAR [wikipedia.org] which has been used since the 60s.

Not about speeding tickets. (5, Insightful)

SleepingWaterBear (1152169) | more than 4 years ago | (#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.

Re:Not about speeding tickets. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31923106)

What if police officers decide to abuse this information?

What if the next government decide to abuse this information?

Re:Not about speeding tickets. (3, Insightful)

nextekcarl (1402899) | more than 4 years ago | (#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:Not about speeding tickets. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31923416)

...won't give the police access to this information to help track honest citizens?

Fixed.

Re:Not about speeding tickets. (1)

Madman (84403) | more than 4 years ago | (#31923514)

Given how insecure government databases in the UK have proven to be I'm just as concerned about organized crime getting ahold of this info.

Re:Not about speeding tickets. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31923544)

There's a simple legislative solution to this: require all tracking data for elected officials be posted publicly after a reasonable waiting period (6 months, perhaps). Once your average pol realizes that all his visits to the "non-therapeutic massage" shop and Big Oil offices might become public, this will disappear rapidly.

Re:Not about speeding tickets. (2, Interesting)

slimjim8094 (941042) | more than 4 years ago | (#31923602)

On the spectrum from 'privacy abuse' to 'legitimately useful', this would be a *lot* closer to legitimately useful than most things we hear about (like the London cameras).

Is there potential for abuse? Of course. But cops are already looking for stolen plates, cars matching stolen descriptions, and I don't think that's a bad thing. This automates that.

If it's done properly, it's not a threat to liberty - require a warrant, etc. It's well-established, whether we like it or not, that our use of the roads by default gives up a bunch of rights - so it's not like this is anything new.

I, for one, would be quite happy with such a system if it found my stolen car.

Re:Not about speeding tickets. (1)

hippo (107522) | more than 4 years ago | (#31923644)

> do you think they won't give the police access to this information to help track criminals?

No, they'll give it to the police to track anyone they want, and probably sell it to Google/TomTom/whoever for data mining.

And download it to a laptop and leave it on a train.

UK profiting from GPS? (1)

ckhorne (940312) | more than 4 years ago | (#31922892)

This doesn't really matter, since the US is paying for the satellites anyway, but isn't it a little odd that the UK is looking to profit from the use of US satellites?

Does the US receive funding from other countries for GPS?

Anything like red light cameras? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31922902)

I mean if these are setup anything like red light cameras here in the states a lot of people are going to be getting a lot of tickets. It seems every week we hear stories about how red light cameras screw things up, or the lights are adjusted to try and catch more people.

Whats to stop this system from being messed with so that it "accidentally" catches people who didn't even speed? Is everyone going even an average of a single mph over the limit going to be getting a ticket or are they just going to use this for those people who average out to doing very large speeds such as 80 in a 45?

Better: Police Presence (1)

Bob9113 (14996) | more than 4 years ago | (#31922910)

Hey, I've got a better idea: How about we have actual police officers on the streets? The nice thing about police officers is that instead of merely pedantically punishing the most measurable of laws long after the infraction has occurred, they can detect harmful behavior in progress even when it does not meet specific technical parameters and intercede. A visible presence also has an enormous deterrent effect on all kinds of criminal and negligent behavior. And even better, they are available to help with things that are not directly enforcement related, like calling a tow truck or directing traffic when a signal goes out. You know, to protect *and* to serve.

As a side benefit, this helps ensure that the fines are going where they belong; to pay the salaries of hard-working public service officers -- not into the pocket of some private corporation's CEO.

Re:Better: Police Presence (1)

JunkmanUK (909293) | more than 4 years ago | (#31923034)

Because a police officer can't acrue vast amounts of information on irrelevant activities just in case it becomes "useful" later on? /cynic

Re:Better: Police Presence (1)

jimicus (737525) | more than 4 years ago | (#31923166)

I believe the money from speed cameras in the UK by and large does go to the local constabulary.

This has led to a situation where once you've been caught on camera, it can be remarkably difficult to get off even if there is demonstrably something wrong with the camera and you are demonstrably not guilty.

I'll be really impressed when... (1)

Bielenberg (725555) | more than 4 years ago | (#31923024)

they can tell me how fast Osama Bin Laden is driving!

Am I missing something.... (1)

vanderbosch (1715598) | more than 4 years ago | (#31923144)

....how are they going to know who's driving the car and then who to issue the tickets too?

Re:Am I missing something.... (2, Informative)

yesod (25715) | more than 4 years ago | (#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".

Re:Am I missing something.... (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 4 years ago | (#31923592)

So, if you accidentally fly by a speed camera, you need to report your vehicle as stolen? What if you don't have a front plate on you vehicle? (I haven't had a front plate on my car for years, since it was knocked off in an accident. Nobody has complained.)

Top Gear (1)

spammeister (586331) | more than 4 years ago | (#31923178)

I can hear the Clarkson rant in my head right now...the season opener will be a gooder.

Revo-lution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31923210)

And they wonder why the American colonies revolted?

Re:Revo-lution (1)

kimvette (919543) | more than 4 years ago | (#31923482)

a lord: "Your majesty, the peasants are revolting."
king: "Yes, they certainly are."

Seriously though, the British cannot revolt against the government, considering they have no right to bear arms as we have here. All too often, people fall for registering and even giving up arms "for the children" or "for safety," having not thought about their grammar-school history lessons regarding past administrations and kingdoms, where they willingly (or sometimes begrudgingly but nevertheless didn't refuse) turned in their firearms under the guise of "security" but invariably eventually led to tyranny.

GPS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31923304)

It's used to time-synch the cameras, not directly to track vehicles.

http://pipstechnology.com/news/library/datasheets/PSS5060%20SpeedSpike-1108.pdf

Cynicism (2, Interesting)

MaWeiTao (908546) | more than 4 years ago | (#31923580)

I'm convinced that the only way to reduce crime and foster a positive relationship between the police and citizens is to have cops on the beat, walking the streets. This way they're forced to interact with people. Having them speed by in patrol cars, and even worse sit back at headquarters while cameras do the work only increases antagonism amongst the people and make it easier to the police to be abusive. You're not going to have a vested interest in someone if there's no personal interaction.

Couple this with governments harboring some authoritarian tendencies and you're looking at real problems. Although I'm sure some will strongly disagree I'm convinced this is the general tendency for socialist governments. I'm not talking about socialism in principle, I'm talking about the tendencies more socialist nations have. Inevitably this attitude arises in government where they're convinced they're the caretakers of the people. They know better than their citizens and need to protect them. This tendency is exhibited in everything from protecting us from terrorists to reducing salt in our diets for our own good. And too often it's too far reaching and misguided. But it frequently it even becomes a necessity. Take government healthcare, if it becomes expensive treating people for a particular preventable condition you can guarantee that the action that causes the problem will be banned.

So I'm not surprised by these totalitarian tendencies. And, especially in this case, it's hard to argue that the UK shouldn't be doing this. It's for our safety that we shouldn't be allowed to speed, isn't it? Of course, when there's a chance for the state to increase revenue, especially with minimal effort on their part, you can't seriously expect them to not jump at the chance.

e-ink license plates (1)

Pouic (1051024) | more than 4 years ago | (#31923638)

would be nice!

Average Speed based systems like this rarely work (1)

CFD339 (795926) | more than 4 years ago | (#31923662)

Systems like this work better on paper than reality. To start, they're effective over fairly long distance open motorway routes. Most speeding isn't done over the entire distance. These systems would only catch people who quickly accelerate to a fairly high speed, hold that speed over long periods of time -- not not having to slow down for other motorists, construction, traffic, fuel, or road hazards. Drivers who are highly disciplined in their speeding habits and make significant effort to maintain the high pace.

The road trips I've been on in the UK and Europe (which are admittedly few) make these conditions over long periods of time seem remarkably unlikely for most people.

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