Ultra Compact Fanless Platform Permits Speed Enforcement

August 10, 2022

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Ultra Compact Fanless Platform Permits Speed Enforcement

You can’t deny the statistics—people are killed on our roadways at an alarming rate due to excessive speeding. In fact, according to a national agency, speeding was a factor in 29% of all traffic fatalities in 2020, killing 11,258, or an average of over 30 people per day. It’s a global situation, from the Americas to Europe to Asia, including Taiwan.

Aside from simply breaking the law, excessive speeding has many other negative consequences. For example, a driver can more easily lose control of a vehicle that’s traveling at an unsafe speed. Longer braking times and distances are required by higher speeds. And the faster you drive, the more fuel you are consuming.

There are some obvious ways to slow drivers down, and some less subtle ways. Having a larger police presence on the road is one way, but with reduced manpower occurring around that country, that solution may not be a possibility. Many highways use signage to try to discourage drivers from speeding, but that passive effort seems to have little to effect on people.

Aggressive driving is a similar danger that fits into the same category, as drivers often go well beyond the speed limit to pass other vehicles. Aggressive driving also includes tailgating and weaving in and out of traffic, all potentially hazardous phenomena.

Safety Plus Revenue

While all these scenarios seem to be the perfect setting for automated speed checking, there’s actually a reason that’s far more prevalent—ticketing speeders/law breakers is a significant revenue stream for many municipalities. Research shows that in many U.S. cities, the revenue realized from tickets issued to speeders accounts for 10% or more of the budget for that municipality.

With those reasons in mind, the demand for automated speed-detecting radar systems is growing rapidly. It should be noted that this process is not a simple one. While it is relatively easy to detect the speed of a moving object, tying that vehicle back to an individual in a timely manner is a far more complicated process. It requires a modern vision system as well as significant compute power. At the same time, you want the system to be as low power as possible, as it’s often deployed in a remote location, one where power simply isn’t available. So, the power source becomes either a rechargeable battery or a solar array, or more likely, a combination of the two.

Modern Speed Enforcement

Speed control “the old-fashioned way,” where you simply snap a photo of the license plate of a speeding car, is wrought with issues. First of all, it’s quite inaccurate, leading to innocent drivers getting tickets while real violators go unscathed. Second, operating through a database can be a quite lengthy process, a violator may not hear from the judicial system for many months. That’s when the databases are connected. In the instances when they are not connected, if the driver is not driving his/her own vehicle or it’s through a third party like a rental agency, the process can be extended to periods that are simply unfair to the drivers.

Intelligent traffic systems are rapidly growing in popularity. The current global market for such platforms was somewhere around $9.7 billion last year. Estimated CAGR for the current decade stands at 12.3%.

One method now in place in Taiwan uses a combination of radar technology and sensors that are embedded into the road surface. If the speed of the vehicle exceeds the legal limit, a digital picture is taken of the offending vehicle. A ticket is then issued to the owner of the vehicle, regardless of who was driving when the infraction occurred. Having all these technologies converge is a function of big data, machine learning, IoT, and Cloud computing, operated by regional governments whose goal is to decrease accidents and fatalities.

This speed-enforcement solution has a few challenges that must be overcome. For example, it must be lightweight and portable. In most instances, the solution is temporary, meaning that it moves from location to location as needed. In addition, because it is usually deployed outdoors, it must be resistant to hot and cold temperature extremes and must be completely water-tight. In those temperature extremes, the system must be able to maintain its accuracy. Finally, the user interface must be relatively simple, as the operator is typically a law-enforcement individual, not a technical user.

Vecow’s SPC-6000 has all the necessary compute power and I/O to operate in a speed-enforcement application. Its power spec is low enough for mobile applications and it can handle the temperature extremes of outdoor use.

Low-Power Fanless Platform

To drive such a platform, a low power, yet compute-intensive embedded computer is needed, such as the SPC-6000 from Vecow. One systems integrator who deploys this technology has been in the law enforcement space for more than 50 years, also branching out into aerospace, military, and national security. The company operates globally, but has many installations in Taiwan.

In addition to law enforcement, the SPC-6000 platform can monitor driver actions over time, helping to determine if other methods should be put in place. In other words, if the system is influencing driver behavior in a positive way, it would be deemed as being successful.

The complete system, comprised of the SPC-6000, the radar camera, and a rechargeable battery, would weigh less than 6 kg. The computer itself weighs about 1.4 Kg and fits the B6 form factor (125 by 176 mm). It provides a fanless operation and is rated to work in a wide temperature range, from -40°C to +70°C. The SPC-6000 provides I/O, including LAN ports to connect industrial cameras, USB 3.2 ports that can be used to attach a touch display or other common peripherals, and two SIM sockets that support multiple WiFi/Bluetooth wireless adapters.

The SPC-6000 is designed with an Intel quad-core Atom x6425RE microprocessor (Elkhart Lake). It supports Intel’s Time Coordinated Computing (TCC) and Time Sensitive Networking (TSN) technologies. And it is compatible with Vecow’s VHub one-stop AIoT solution service that acts as an AI enabler and training platform.

While we have targeted traffic/speed enforcement here, it should be noted that the SPC-6000 also fits tangential applications like robotics control, factory automation, smart retail, and traffic vision.

Speeding is a potentially deadly action. Municipalities are aiming to curb this behavior. The experts at Vecow can provide the necessary path.