Car recognition software is an essential tool for tracking vehicles that has gained momentum in the modern technologically oriented world. To help you keep up with the latest changes in this world, we have compiled a mini-guide about what car recognition is, how a car plate recognition algorithm works, and where you can find reliable car recognition software. So, fasten your seatbelts and get ready to be amazed by the potential of car recognition!
What is Car Recognition?
Defining Car Recognition: Terms and Requirements
There are many different terms related to the idea of identifying vehicles. One can speak about car recognition, vehicle recognition, license plate recognition, vehicle license plate recognition, car model recognition etc. Some of these terms are used as absolute synonyms. For example, it is self-explanatory that car recognition and vehicle recognition are basically the same concepts (just like license plate recognition and vehicle license plate recognition aka VLPR). For the sake of simplicity, in this post, we will use the term car recognition that covers the whole car tracking process, including a plate recognition and car model recognition.
Car recognition is the process of identifying and tracking vehicles with a help of computer vision technologies. Usually, to run this process smoothly, one needs a professional car recognition algorithm and a set of cameras (either regular or specifically designed for car recognition purposes). In some cases, it makes sense to combine cameras with laser sensors. Sometimes it is advisable to have an operator who monitors the whole process and is authorized to make decisions on how to react to the recognized objects. In other words, a car plate recognition system does not demand any specifically designed environment to function successfully.
Fields for Implementing Car Recognition
There are many fields where car recognition can and is used successfully. To begin with, governmental agencies like police forces benefit from applying car plate recognition on the national level. The main aim, in this case, would be to identify stolen cars. Having performed the computer vision analysis of a car plate, a car recognition system automatically informs an operator about a presumably stolen vehicle. As a result, police forces have enough time to plan and perform their operations with precision. In other words, reliable car recognition software can help locate dozens of stolen cars 24/7.
Also, a car number recognition system can be used for tracking all sorts of offenses connected with driving. For example, car recognition software can be programmed to identify speeding, failing to stop after an accident, leaving a vehicle in a dangerous position etc. Of course, this software can be linked to any third-party programs like an automated ticketing system.
Public Sector Examples
A telling example of public sector interested in car recognition services is the government of Georgia. Being one of the successfully implemented computer vision projects from Vidolab, this example demonstrates that a car number recognition system is a reliable and effective instrument for governmental agencies across the globe.
Highway agencies can also make good use of car plate recognition. Computer vision technologies are an ideal solution when it comes to assessing the length of a road that a car takes on a highway. A professional car plate recognition algorithm can perform this operation in real-time, thus collecting enough data for further steps. For instance, once a car recognition system identifies the length of a road taken by a certain car, it can redirect this data to other systems for calculating a toll and then collecting tolls without cash.
All in all, car recognition software is a simple and yet highly effective tool for tracking all sorts of cars and identifying their plates and models promptly.
How Car Recognition Works
Any professional car recognition software should be capable of carrying out at least three operations mentioned in the list below:
- Identifying cars (in contrast to other moving objects, i.e. people, carriages, animals etc);
- Tracking cars in motion;
- Specifying the exact time when a car appears in the field of view of a camera and then disappears from it.
Identifying Cars as Visual Objects
If you are a programmer, then there are several platforms you can try to identify cars. A nice example of such a platform is Video Data Platform from IBM PowerAI Vision. Once you are done with some labeling (which may be time-consuming as it is a mainly manual task), you can let the platform do the automated labeling after your validation. As the platform allows you to work with quite a few car images, you can be sure that the results of car identification will be prompt.
If you are not a programmer, we have great news for you – there is no need to dive into all these details about how car recognition works (it is just technical jargon, really!). Feel free to skip this section of the post altogether and go straight to the part where we talk about how to find reliable car recognition software.
Tracking Cars in Motion
There are several computer vision algorithms that can be used for car tracking. Some of them are open source trackers like Kernelized Correlation Filter and Multiple Instance Learning for OpenCV. These two can help you count cars that enter or exit the field of view of a camera.
Sure thing, most of the open source trackers need to be adjusted to the needs of a specific car recognition project. The main reason to do so is to customize these trackers so that they can be further linked to other programs like a police forces database or an automated toll collection system. One more reason to customize the above-mentioned trackers (or any other free trackers, for that matter) is that they are not perfect when it comes to fast-moving objects, like cars. Overlapping images of cars in motion can mislead free trackers and cause calculation errors along the way. That is why make sure to double check if you are able to improve the code for the tracker you want to use for the current car recognition project.
Specifying the Time a Car Spends in the Field of View
There are different approaches to calculating the time a car spends in the field of view of a camera. Most commonly used options are distinguishing the time aspect for the following car movements:
- When does a car cross a specific goal line in the field of view?
- How much time does a car spend in the field of view?
Depending on your car recognition project, you can either go for one of the options below or both of them. Either way, you need to specify what your goal line is. This goal line can be located in two areas. The first area is the geographical marker where a car enters the field of view of a camera. The latter area is the geographical marker where a car exits this view. As soon as a tracker catches an image of a car crossing a goal line, the tracker triggers a clock mechanism.
Specifying the time a car spends in the field of view can be crucial for many traffic related projects. For instance, defining the time that a car spends in the field view can be used to calculate the speed of this vehicle. If a car exceeds the speed limit, then car recognition software can be programmed to redirect this information to the police forces or highway agencies.
Where and How to Find Reliable Car Recognition Software
There are several criteria that can help you choose the reliable team to design the car recognition software. To begin with, this team has to be able to demonstrate the completed projects on car recognition. By “completed” we mean projects that:
- are already implemented in practice;
- concern the development of car recognition software (and not just any video tracking applications).
One of the biggest challenges when looking for a provider of car recognition services is misleading ads. The thing is car recognition services are often advertised as video tracking services. In other words, some computer vision agencies assume they can design car recognition software simply because they know how to track objects in a video. Sure thing, these agencies are not ready to deal with complicated cases in car recognition. For instance, not every computer vision agency will cope with car plate recognition if a plate contains a combo of different languages (Arabic and English) or a country logo. Put simply, do not be shy to ask a manager of the computer vision agency for more information about the car recognition projects they developed. Truth be told, this is the only way to check if the team of programmers can actually work out efficient algorithms for specific car recognition projects.
Pay Attention to Details
Also, when choosing a provider of car recognition services, pay attention to the pre-purchase experience this provider offers. A renowned agency that specializes in car recognition services will be glad to offer you a free consultation, a personal tech assistant to discuss the project preliminaries.
One more important aspect when searching for a reliable computer vision team to design the car recognition software is their ability to work with third-party applications. Make sure that the agency you want to hire can create the car recognition software that can be linked with external programs and systems seamlessly.
Finally, make it your priority to choose the agency that can provide the full scope of car recognition services. This is important because you may need to improve the car recognition software in the future and the easiest way to do it is to hire the company that designed this software in the first place. Vidolab is a telling example of a computer vision agency that can help you with any challenges that involve cars and video recognition. Unlike Vidolab, such agencies as Eyedea or Orpix can be of help only if you are interested in identifying the vehicle make and model.
Summing It Up
Car recognition is a promising field in computer vision. Aimed at facilitating the process of monitoring and managing traffic, car recognition software can be the breakthrough your business should benefit from. Just make sure that you hire a renowned computer vision agency who has already run a car recognition project smoothly!