Fasten your seatbelts, and slow the hell down! A new generation of speed camera is being readied and it's able to catch you committing eight separate offenses at the same time.
The camera system, known as Project Asset, will be able to snoop in and around your car as you drive, snitching to the feds about whether you're speeding, wearing a seatbelt, driving too close to the car in front, whether your vehicle is carrying too heavy a cargo, whether your brakes and tyres are roadworthy and whether you have insurance and tax.
Asset, which stands for Advanced Safety and Driver Support for Essential Road Transport (surely that would be ASDSERT?), has a 3D camera system consisting of two cameras located at the top and bottom of its bodywork. According to the Daily Mail, the pair work in tandem to detect speeding cars up to 50 yards away and are accurate enough to detect expired tax disks and photograph people who aren't wearing seat belts.
The Asset camera, which is mounted to the back of a trailer, also has an infrared thermal-imaging system that can detect the condition of a vehicle's brakes and tyres. If those parts of a car show readings that they might be running too hot due to being worn down, the system can record the vehicle's number plate and send the registered keeper's details to the police, who can then -- in theory -- prosecute the driver for driving an unsafe vehicle.
The people behind the Asset camera have also developed a fully automated overload control system -- essentially pads in the road -- that can weigh vehicles, or their individual wheels and axles even at high speed.
As impressive as the technology may be, it's rather worrying. If a driver were to commit multiple offences at the same time, the Asset system could, theoretically, cause that person to acquire enough endorsements to lose their licence in one fell swoop. Just imagine doing 31mph in a 30mph zone while not wearing a seatbelt in a vehicle whose tax disc had expired the day before. The authorities would know in seconds and you'd be in quite a lot of trouble.
The Asset camera is currently being tested by the VTT Technical Research Centre in Finland. If trials are successful, it will likely be converted to fit inside police vehicles by the end of 2011.