September 22, 2021 by Matthew Brady

What Does the Future of Mobile License Plate Recognition Look Like? 

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Industries: 9-1-1 & Law Enforcement

Topics: Analytics License Plate Recognition Video Solutions

Our new M500 in-car video and L5M mobile LPR cameras systems dramatically increase your options for license plate recognition.

It’s not often that license plate recognition (LPR) technology takes a giant leap forward. Every year images get clearer, cameras get faster, low-light performance improves, but with the addition of LPR to in-car video systems over the past year, we are seeing something truly revolutionary. Now, mobile license plate recognition is attainable at the flip of a switch. Your in-car system (assuming it has the option for LPR) is giving you more return on investment and actually becoming an active partner in the field, keeping officers and the community safer. 

 At Motorola Solutions, we embarked on this journey by providing an LPR upgrade to our 4RE in-car video system. But on September 8, 2021, with the announcement of our new M500 in-car video system, we’ve taken LPR a step further. Not only does new, top-of-the-line imaging technology help you capture more, accurate detection data, but the system is designed with embedded artificial intelligence (AI) to introduce additional officer safety features into the vehicle. When it ships, the M500 will not only be able to recognize license plates but also be enabled with backseat occupancy detection to automate camera activation, and will include other non-AI officer safety features such as live streaming and group camera activation. And this is just the start. With a core processor that was purposefully engineered with room to grow, we can’t wait to work with customers on the next set of capabilities that heighten awareness, safety, and efficiency for officers.

At this point, you might be thinking Brady, what does this mean for traditional mobile LPR? Is it going the way of the dinosaurs? 

Well, no. Here’s why. In-car integrated LPR is a valuable tool, but it’s also important to recognize when it’s useful and when it’s not. Most notably, it can only see what’s in front of the vehicle. A purpose-built mobile LPR system can use multiple cameras arranged to suit your city layout, patrol strategy, and even state laws (Front and back plates? Back plates only?). Additionally, in-car integrated LPR is a video camera first and sits behind a windshield, so it isn’t optimized for detecting license plates in low-light, dense traffic volumes and on vehicles moving at high speeds. Simply put, in-car integrated LPR is a tactical solution – excellent for keeping officers alert and informed of vehicles of interest in their immediate sightline. But for those of us who have been in this game long enough, the value of mobile LPR can be so much more.

mobile license plate recognition

That’s why, on September 15, 2021, we launched the L5M next-generation mobile LPR camera system. With this high-performance, purpose-built mobile LPR system, you can provide officers with more complete situational awareness, amplify patrol efficiency and generate deeper investigative insights that close more cases, faster. Not only can you get more complete coverage around your patrol vehicle with up to four cameras per system, but you can also see across multiple lanes of traffic, further than what’s possible with any in-car video system. 

Beyond the inherent system configuration flexibility, the L5M is also engineered specifically for LPR. This includes the fact that the camera contains dual-color and infrared (IR) sensors, each with a dedicated lens, along with unobstructed IR illumination for detecting plates in all lighting conditions, even zero lux. Additionally, with a global shutter, images are clear and not subject to warping and producing inaccurate license plate reads at high speeds. Lastly, with a 60 frame per second (FPS) camera frame rate and a dedicated, powerful processing unit to support continuous operation at that level across four cameras, the L5M is more than capable of scanning vehicles in even the densest traffic.

So what does this mean for the future of mobile license plate recognition? The quick answer is that agencies have more options than ever to deploy mobile LPR in a way that meets their specific environmental and budgetary needs. If you’re looking to dip your toe in the water with mobile LPR for the first time, the M500 is a great place to start. If that isn’t an option, you can deploy the L5M with even just one camera and add more to your system to expand coverage and data collection if or when you desire. Additionally, no matter which product you start with, you can add the other without disruption to the officer experience. The M500 and L5M share a common user interface for viewing license plate detections, receiving hit notifications and running searches. 

Whether used individually or together, both the M500 and L5M seamlessly integrate with Vigilant PlateSearch, a part of the LEARN platform, for synchronizing with hot lists you create or subscribe to. This is also where all your detection data gets uploaded and is stored. Unique to our platform is that you have complete control over retention and the ability to easily connect with partners and share data. With billions of detections at your disposal you can then take advantage of patented search and vehicle location analytics functionality to generate investigative insights and actionable leads that close cases. And because with great power comes great responsibility, our platform is built to exceed industry security standards. It is designed to ensure responsible use by protecting data and privacy alike so that criminals can be brought to justice the right way.

License plate recognition is an invaluable tool for law enforcement. At Motorola Solutions, we are proud to be developing new ways to make it more accessible to agencies across the world and lead the way in making LPR data actionable while ensuring the technology is being used responsibly. The M500 and L5M are just the most recent steps we’ve taken in this endeavor and we would be delighted to tell you more about either one if you are interested in learning more. 

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