ANPR, or Automatic Number Plate Recognition, is the technology employed to gather location information by taking images and reading license plates on moving vehicles. The software encompasses various applications and high-precision systems that help read vehicle license plates without human intervention.
Scanners or cameras collect this data, which is cross-referenced for various traffic, surveillance, and law enforcement applications.
The history of ANPR software is traced back to the 1970s by the Police Scientific Development Branch in Britain. EMI Electronics produced the initial prototype system in 1979. Further improvements went down at Computer Recognition Systems (CRS) in Wokingham, UK.
Developers first tested the systems at the Dartford Tunnel and on the A1 road. In 1981, the first arrest resulted from discovering a stolen vehicle. However, ANPR gained popularity in the 1990s, when technology was cheaper and user-friendly. In the early 2000s, there was a revelation that data collected by the ANPR software was used to identify past crimes.
In November 2005, in Bradford, United Kingdom, ANPR was a valuable tool for the first time to aid in investigating a homicide. Surveillance from the software helped the police to find and ultimately convict the murderers of Sharon Beshenivsky.
It’s worth noting that initially, the ANPR systems used hardware to read the license plates of moving vehicles. The idea didn’t gain popularity as it was very costly, the CPUs computation power was Intel 486 at 33MHz, and video resolution sensors were typically CIF or SIF.
With time, computer technology developed both hardware and software, making it simpler to process standard video surveillance. In addition, the cost decreased, and as a result, many industries adopted the ANPR systems.
According to GlobeNewswire, global ANPR sales are estimated at 9.5% by 2030, reaching approximately $5.6 billion.
Components Of ANPR
Several components help run the system. They include the following:
Optical character recognition (OCR) is a technology employed by ANPR. With the aid of OCR, the system can accommodate different text fonts and take a picture of the plate at any angle. In addition, the system utilizes infrared cameras to get high-resolution images. Some of the cameras are portable, mobile, or fixed.
The additional features of ANPR include the following:
- Multilingual technology allows it to recognize languages like English, Arabic, Chinese, Thai, and Cyrillic, among others.
- Fast recognition as the cameras can take approximately 100 pictures in a second. In addition, it processes and does a full reading in a matter of seconds.
- The ANPR engine can handle large amounts of data and cross-reference images against the data in the library.
ANPR runs with the assistance of several applications. The applications include the following:
- The parking guidance application automatically recognizes free parking spots and guides vehicles to the park via the best route.
- Road Safety Enforcement application detects overspeeding and red-light violations.
- Law enforcement vehicles verify the license and registrations of other vehicles, and an alert is generated when a blacklisted vehicle is detected. Vigilant vendors also capture plate data using ALPRs and give it to police to aid investigations.
- The Electronic Toll Collection application catches the vehicle plate number at the tool booths and enables automatic payments.
There are several significant algorithms used in the ANPR software. They include the following:
- Plate localization, for identifying the vehicle plate and isolating it based on the type of vehicle and geographical location.
- Normalization sharpens the image view by adjusting the brightness and contrast.
- Optical character recognition is useful in determining the alphanumeric characters on the image of the plate.
- Character segmentation separates the character in the image and runs them individually.
- Plate orientation and sizing help crop the image to the required dimensions.
- Plate detection helps detect the location of the plate in the camera frame.
- The classification feature categorizes the images under ‘plate’ or ‘no plate.’
- The segmentation feature removes all the unnecessary regions of the image and only leaves the area of interest.
Working Mechanism of ANPR Software
Today, ANPR software is sophisticated and performs complex actions aiding the field of surveillance. Today’s ANPR systems utilize high-speed image cameras to take images of vehicles on the road. The image is converted to text, giving details of the type of vehicle and its license plates. The images are then processed and cross-referenced against a library for information and identification.
Law enforcement makes use of this to:
- Monitor and control traffic.
- Identify offenders and monitor any suspicious activity.
- ANPR is great for surveillance and security.
Several versions are available online if you are a developer looking to get their hands on ANPR software free. Several sites are offering a free trial on ANPR software. The software is helpful for learning purposes, and developers can work on creating applications using OCR.
For non-developers, the free trial gives you experience and the basics of how ANPR works. With basic information, you can work on coding your system based on an existing solution.
Here is how to install the ANPR free trial on your Windows device:
- Search for websites offering a free trial online
- Click on the download button and wait for the download to complete.
- Finish the installation process and run the program.
Ensure the site you download ANPR is safe to avoid bugs and get your files corrupted. Scan the downloaded file with your antivirus to be safe. Your antivirus will detect any issues with the download.
The development of ANPR software commenced in the 1970s in Britain. By incorporating different technologies, applications, and algorithms, ANPR helps identify registered vehicle license plates, surveillance and security, park management, and electronic toll collection. In addition, the software has undergone numerous upgrades and is currently used by the police force in most parts of the world.