The carpool lane, also referred to as the HOV lane is supposed to be reserved for those people who responsibly choose to carpool on their way to and from work each day. This lane is typically the one that travels with the least obstacles and slowdowns, making it the most attractive lane for you to drive in, but it have supposed to be a reward for those who actually carpool to and from work. For years traffic enforcement officers have worked to catch people cheating in the carpool lane and they have even been successful in some cases, but there could be a better system.
Xerox has developed a system that will make it more difficult to fool the cameras that already watch the carpool lane. Yes, the folks who make the copiers you trust on a daily basis may stop you from being in the carpool lane unless you have a legitimate number of passengers to be there. Regardless of the number you need, you will have to be carting actual people in order to fool this new system from Xerox, unlike the man who thought he could use a cardboard cutout of the Dos Equis spokesman for his travelling companion. (Who can blame him, the guy is the “Most interesting man in the world” after all)
The system Xerox has created will use two cameras, a laser image trigger, an illuminator and a video image processor to review images in your car’s front and back seat to detect the validity of the passengers. Their claim is that this system is even advanced enough to detect if you have a dog in the car seat where baby normally would be. The system can work at speeds up to 100 mph and will also capture the license plate of the vehicle in question.
The challenge right now is determining the need for this system. While the trial run that was used in California was able to catch 95 percent of those who were trying to cheat this simple system compared to only a 36 percent success rate for the human observers, this system is a bit expensive. Actually, the cost would be directly related to the amount of road that needs to be covered as the system will cost as much as an electric toll booth to be installed and maintained.
The problem with a system that is this good is the fact that once it’s in place and people begin to receive tickets for driving in the carpool lane when they shouldn’t they will likely stop doing this. With the habit broken the system won’t have anything to do except continually deter would be cheaters from entering the carpool lane with anything other than actual human passengers inside the vehicle. That leave the dilemma of whether or not this is a good use of taxpayer money and if you happen to see these Xerox camera systems along the carpool and HOV lanes in your area, you’ll quickly know the answer to the value of this new deterrent.