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Speed Radars and the Next Generation

  Posted at 09:30:50 AM
  File under  Opinion
  Author: Mike Werner
  Location: Normandy, France

So far, most countries have been plagued by these digital radar systems. They're fully automatic, transmitting the digital photos within seconds to their controlling stations, where software automatically analyzes the license plates, and if needed, automatically deduct the speeding fine from your bank account.

In France, there are already over 1,000 such units installed, with another 1,000 coming over the next 12 months. At €150,000 a unit, this is big business for the manufacturers.

It's logical therefore that these manufacturers produce next generation radar systems. You don't want the radars to be there for very long, you want to replace them as soon as they've been bought.

French industrial conglomerate Sagem is one of these companies. Sagem produce a wide product array for consumer and industrial clients, ranging from mobile telephones to TVs to industrial processors.

One area they have a large revenue base, but very small (and deliberate) profile is speeding radars. They don't manufacture them (they're made in Germany and the USA), but they do package and sell them. However, Sagem don't shout this on top of the roof tops. They're not crazy.

Sagem Mesta 2000
Sagem Mesta 2000
Sagem Rada
"Old" Radar
The latest technology is about to hit the digital radars. Introducing the Mesta 2000.

The radar is very small ! Much smaller compared to its current predecessor (picture on your right). You can barely see them, so they can now be put almost anywhere without complaints by the people who live in the area. I have to admit, it looks a lot better than the old one...

The unit obviously sports a digital camera hooked to a doppler radar. The unit is so small it can be used as a fixed, but also as a portable unit. It can monitor up to 4 different lanes, in contrast with current units (they can only monitor 1 lane). You can in fact add 2 cameras per lane, so that you're guaranteed a perfect picture of the offending motorcycle (or car).

The unit will communicate with the "back office" using an encrypted and secure TCP/IP link (ie, through the internet).

On a "plus" point, it can only measure speeds of up to 300 kph, so if you're riding over that, you're safe NoNo

Sagem Mesta 3000
Sagem Mesta 3000
Then there's the new Mesta 3000. This new unit is to be used to catch people who drive through red lights !! It can monitor up to 4 lanes at the same time.

I'm not a big fan of the speeding radars, but red light radars should be installed at every traffic light in my opinion. I've seen far too often cars (and bikes) speeding through red !

Back at the ranch, Sagem sell the Mesta VPS (Violation Processing Station). This software and hardware package allows for operators to process all images. They can zoom on plates, targeting specific offenders.

Another "useful" piece of software is the ANPR (Automatic Number Plate Recognition). Apart from what the name says it does (automatically recognize license plates), it can be used for a large variety of actions. For example, it can measure the time it took for a vehicle to ride between two points in a series of photos, and calculate the speed (for example between two toll booths on a motorway) !

If you're interested in finding out more about what we're up against, click here to access their website.

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