On the Road
From keyless car access to real-time traffic news
It’s Monday morning and you have an important business meeting in the centre of London. You zap your car, unlocking it, and rush to your meeting, only to find a traffic jam at the toll booth on the motorway. Fortunately, you have a special pass for your car, and you can drive through the toll gate without stopping.
Toll roads and keyless access to cars are two of the oldest and most popular RFID applications. They’re so commonplace that it’s easy to forget their RFID roots. But travel and logistics experts are certainly not letting these initial successes go to their head: they’re busy thinking up new ways in which RFID can make travel safer and faster.
Tyre recalls and inspections
In the United States, a European tyre maker experimented with embedding RFID into the sidewalls of tyres to make them easier to track and trace in the event of a recall for safety reasons. The microchip in the RFID tag carries a unique identification number which can be linked to a vehicle’s identification code. The RFID tag could also be used to obtain information such as when the tyre was manufactured and how much air it can hold. Later, as applications evolve, carmakers envisage using on-board computers in cars to read safety information on the RFID tags of the vehicle’s tyres.
In the UK, the Department for Transport uses RFID to manage documents about vehicle inspections more efficiently, to ensure that motorists don’t falsify records about their emissions. The system allows each of the 30 million vehicle inspections done each year to be traced back to a specific facility and inspection agent.
RFID can also be used to collect information about traffic jams. For instance, officials can track the travel time of cars on specific motorways, analyse that information and then distribute reports about average commuting times to drivers, helping them decide which route to take.
Some developers are even working on RFID-based systems that could issue alerts to drivers about traffic jams, accidents and roadworks or on systems that could warn a motorist that he is driving too fast on a particular stretch. The capabilities of RFID on the road are almost limitless.
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