AI Highway Cameras Are Here But They Are Looking For Specific Offenders

The United Kingdom is testing out using AI-powered cameras to identify people littering from cars.

By Robert Scucci | Published

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Nobody likes a litterbug, and according to Business Insider, new measures will be taken in traffic enforcement to clean up the highways in the UK. This new development will involve the use of AI highway cameras to zero in on offenders who toss their trash out of their vehicles while driving. And a littering offense will lead to offending drivers getting fined a hefty fee of £100 ($126.18 US).

Though we don’t presently know the scope of this AI highway camera initiative, we do know that they will be testing out the technology across the southeast of England. Sources speculate that these cameras will be placed along the A3 in Hampshire during this initial rollout. And it’s safe to say that this initiative will be a lot more efficient than the current system that’s in place, in which enforcement officers have to manually scroll through hours of CCTV footage to track down offenders.

The new AI highway camera system will be a more streamlined approach in which the cameras can scan the highways in real-time, and send images directly to an enforcement control room for further analysis before issuing fines. And though this may seem like an extreme measure, it’s worth noting how bad the litter has gotten on UK highways.

In fact, the current level of rubbish on the roads is so bad that transport minister Richard Holden stated almost 40 percent of the roads overseen by National Highways were graded below B for litter. This is a very nice way of saying Grade C, which indicates a widespread of distribution of litter. And by installing AI highway cameras, National Highways may be able to nip this issue in the bud over time.

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To make matters more serious, the environmental campaign group Clean Up Britain has threatened National Highways with legal action if they don’t find a way to clean up the motorways. John Read, the founder of Clean Up Britain, has gone on record stating that the motorways look like a “rubbish bin,” and that officials need to understand that littering is a major problem that needs to be addressed. And while the use of AI highway cameras sounds promising, it may take a while to see how effective this method of reducing roadway waste will actually be.

But the use of AI highway cameras makes us wonder what other ways this technology will be used in the future. Though everybody could agree that reducing the amount of litter on the motorways is a good thing, concerns about privacy are definitely legitimate. Maybe we’ve seen too many dystopian science fiction films in our days, but it’s definitely a slippery slope that can quickly bring us to levels of surveillance not unlike the methods used in Demolition Man if this technology falls into the wrong hands.

However, it’s worth noting that we’re already seeing the use of AI-powered cameras in Amazon delivery vehicles. Though these aren’t AI highway cameras like the ones being rolled out in the UK, but rather four cameras that are affixed to the delivery vehicle that track and flag safety violations such as speeding and distracted driving. Though drivers have gone on record stating that the camera system is frustrating, they do appreciate that the technology is used to enforce good safety practices.

At the end of the day, we have to realize that technology like AI highway cameras is used with positive intent. And the big takeaway is that not only will the motorways in the UK potentially see a massive cleanup, but the efficiency of this proposed initiative will free up a lot of man-hours to continue contributing to the better good of society.