Roland Piquepaille's Technology Trends
How new technologies are modifying our way of life

mardi 10 août 2004

A South African company, iPico Holdings, "has developed and tested RFID passive tags and readers that can be used to monitor vehicles at a read distance of 17 feet traveling at speeds of 160 mph," according to this article from RFID Journal. The tags are attached to the windshield inside the cars while the readers are placed on the roadside or on bridges. When an equipped car passes in front a reader, at a speed not exceeding 250 kph, the unique 64-bit ID of the tag is read. The readers, which cost about US$1,000, can detect up to 7,200 vehicles per minute (a pretty busy road, isn't?). The tags cost currently 60 cents each -- for an order of 5 million tags. The technology will be used to control traffic and speed, but also will enable immediate traffic ticketing or toll collection.

Here are the basic facts.

South African RFID chip and reader design firm iPico Holdings announced the commercial availability of its Electronic Number Plate (ENP) RFID technology. The company says its technology is already being deployed in a pilot in South America.
IPico’s new UHF ENP technology uses the company’s existing EM4222 passive chip design already used for supply chain management and tire-tagging applications. For its ENP system, however, the company redesigned the tag so it could be attached to the inside of a vehicle’s windshield and developed readers for roadside placement.
Using RFID in electronic vehicle identification promises to support a range of applications both for government and local authorities and for businesses. The technology is being considered for electronic vehicle licensing, traffic, speed and cross-border control and traffic ticketing, as well as for existing operations such as road toll collection and fleet and parking management.

Is the technology really working?

The company maintains that when used with its readers, the ENP tag can be read at distances that allow readers to be placed at the roadside or on bridges over roads. In July, the company demonstrated the technology at an automotive test track operated by Gerotek Test Facilities in Pretoria. Four Smart cars, a DaimlerChrysler line of very small vehicles sold in South Africa as well as in Europe and Asia, were each fitted with two ENP tags to simulate eight vehicles.
The system was tested as the cars drove closely together at both at low speed (80 kph, or 50 mph) and high speed (120 kph, or 75 mph), says iPico, and all the tags were read each time they passed roadside readers. In addition, an ENP tag placed on the inside windshield of a Mercedes Benz C55 model was also succesfully read while the car traveled at speeds in excess of 250 kph (160 mph).

OK, it works for one car, but does it also work to control thousands of cars?

ccording to the company, its system can read up to 200 tags per second; on a continuous basis, the system can read an average of 7,200 tags per minute. These volumes can be read either by a single reader, by a single reader that has an array of up to four antennas, or by multiple readers in close proximity (say four readers covering four lanes of a highway) that are connected with iPico’s DIMI (Device Information & Management Interface) middleware platform.

IPico has started a test program in a non-disclosed country in South America, and says that 5 million tags have already been ordered. In the future, the tags will also contain more information, such as the vehicle license plate, which will permit to detect stolen cars.

Source: Jonathan Collins, RFID Journal, August 9, 2004

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