Chasing cell phone offenders on the steering wheel: Monocam
The German police are using a new technique to hunt down drivers who use a mobile phone in the car. This is how the new technology works.
Minister of the Interior Roger Lewentz with representatives of the police at the presentation of the Monocam.
© MdI RLP
From June 1, 2022, the police in Trier and Mainz will be chasing cell phone offenders behind the wheel with new camera technology. This is reported by Südwestrundfunk. The Free State of Bavaria is looking forward to the results: According to the Bayerischer Rundfunk, the Bavarian Ministry of the Interior is “open and interested” in the Monocam and the associated testing in Rhineland-Palatinate.
AI recognizes typical mobile phone usage
For this purpose, a camera is set up, which films the drivers from diagonally above. A typical location for the camera is a bridge over a highway. From there, the drivers are then filmed on the freeway. An AI-based technology analyzes the recordings and is supposed to recognize whether the driver is holding a mobile phone or smartphone in his or her hand or is somehow busy with a smartphone.
If the camera AI detects a mobile phone driving violation, the camera takes a photo that is displayed on the police officer’s screen. Because the camera is connected directly to an emergency vehicle, which contains a laptop with special software. The specially trained police officers take a close look at the scene recorded by the camera and then decide whether it is actually a mobile phone that the driver is using behind the wheel. The officials rule out cases in which it is not a cell phone at all, for example the driver reaches for a handkerchief.
This camera surveillance system with AI is called “Monocam” and was developed by the Dutch police together with the University of Utrecht. The Dutch police provided the German colleagues with a camera and software for the test phase.
The police headquarters in Trier will start a three-month test run on June 1, with a focus on motorways. The police headquarters in Mainz will then continue testing for another three months.
A first test run has already taken place: on a motorway bridge over the A60 near Mainz-Finthen. Result: The police caught ten drivers with mobile phones within 30 minutes. Although the surveillance was even announced to the drivers with a sign! However, the police refrained from punishing the test run.
A set consisting of a camera, software and a special laptop costs around 20,000 euros to purchase. If the test phase is successful, the monocam could be used across the country.
If you are caught with a mobile phone at the wheel, you have to pay a fine of 100 euros and get a point in Flensburg.
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