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posted by CoolHand on Wednesday April 29 2015, @03:23PM   Printer-friendly
from the not-creepy-at-all dept.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation is warning of a new surveillance technology to look out for alongside drones, automatic license plate readers, facial recognition, IMSI catchers (like Stingray), and Rapid DNA analyzers. It's Xerox's new and improved system for Automated Vehicle Occupancy Detection, also known as Automated Vehicle Passenger Detection or Automated Vehicle Occupancy Verification:

For years, government agencies have chased technologies that would make it easier to ensure that vehicles in carpool lanes are actually carrying multiple passengers. Perhaps the only reason these systems haven't garnered much attention is that they haven't been particularly effective or accurate, as UC Berkeley researchers noted in a 2011 report.

Now, an agency in San Diego, Calif. believes it may have found the answer: the Automated Vehicle Passenger Detection system developed by Xerox.

The San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG), a government umbrella group that develops transportation and public safety initiatives across the San Diego County region, estimates that 15% of drivers in High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes aren't supposed to be there. After coming up short with earlier experimental projects, the agency is now testing a brand new technology to crack down on carpool-lane scofflaws on the I-15 freeway.

Documents obtained by CBS 8 reporter David Gotfredson show that Xerox's system uses two cameras to capture the front and side views of a car's interior. Then "video analytics" and "geometric algorithms" are used to detect whether the seats are occupied.

When the detection system's computer determines a driver is improperly traveling in the carpool lane, the cameras instantly send photos of the car's interior and its license plate to the California Highway Patrol.

In short: the technology is looking at your image, the image of the people you're with, your location, and your license plate. (SANDAG told CBS the systems will not be storing license plate data during the trial phase and the system will, at least for now, automatically redact images of drivers and passengers. Xerox's software, however, allows police the option of using a weaker form of redaction that can be reversed on request.)

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  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by tangomargarine on Wednesday April 29 2015, @03:57PM

    by tangomargarine (667) on Wednesday April 29 2015, @03:57PM (#176681)

    So you mean 85% of people voluntarily choose to obey the system when there is no way to catch them now?

    Sounds like the (lack of) system is working to me.

    "Is that really true?" "I just spent the last hour telling you to think for yourself! Didn't you hear anything I said?"
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  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by ikanreed on Wednesday April 29 2015, @04:30PM

    by ikanreed (3164) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday April 29 2015, @04:30PM (#176709) Journal

    We're kinda of wired in our brains to detest people who are selfish, even when their net effect on the sustainability of the system is near zero. We don't like unfairness. It's deep in our psyche, and other social primates like chimps and monkeys demonstrate angry reactions to "unfair" situations. Monkeys cite. [] Chimp cite [](And they'll even apparently reject unfairness that benefits them if they think reprisal is likely)

    • (Score: 2) by tangomargarine on Wednesday April 29 2015, @05:29PM

      by tangomargarine (667) on Wednesday April 29 2015, @05:29PM (#176741)

      I have an on-ramp near me that I'm not quite sure how to handle. It's going onto a commuter highway and there's one of those really faded diamond paints in one of the two lanes. Is it just really faded and they haven't bothered to repaint it, or did they buff it out on purpose? (People tend to go over to that lane when it gets congested a lot of the time, too.)

      Plus, with only 2 lanes I would think it'd be more efficient to just have them both be normal unrestricted lanes. How many people carpool to work in the morning anyway? We're Americans; we love wasting gas.

      Presumably the reason for carpool lanes is to encourage carpooling, but in this instance it feels like it's pragmatically just causing traffic flow inefficiency.

      "Is that really true?" "I just spent the last hour telling you to think for yourself! Didn't you hear anything I said?"
  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 29 2015, @04:45PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 29 2015, @04:45PM (#176716)

    Not good enough for zero tolerance fascist america. You must obey!

  • (Score: 2) by Tork on Wednesday April 29 2015, @07:34PM

    by Tork (3914) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday April 29 2015, @07:34PM (#176796)
    This is off-topic but I'm curious if that number fluctuates when news stories of gov't or law enforcement scandal air.
    🏳️‍🌈 Proud Ally 🏳️‍🌈
  • (Score: 2) by bob_super on Wednesday April 29 2015, @07:39PM

    by bob_super (1357) on Wednesday April 29 2015, @07:39PM (#176801)

    85% of the people in the HOV belong there. 90 to 99%% of the single-occupant vehicles are -stopped- in the 2-to-8 non-HOV lanes.
    15% of the HOV occupants cheating usually only means a few percent of the overall traffic.

    • (Score: 2) by frojack on Thursday April 30 2015, @12:19AM

      by frojack (1554) on Thursday April 30 2015, @12:19AM (#176878) Journal

      The thing is, if I go to buy groceries, and my wife rides along, my trip no more or less necessary than if I drive alone.

      And this is the case in the vast majority of trips. Car pooling often engenders more trips (after work hours) because the stops planned along the way now have to be repeated in several vehicles.

      We all pay for car pool lanes, but only certain among us get to use them. The rest are wasting gas in stop and go traffic, in crowding that another lane would have lessened.

      As far as I know nobody has demonstrated that HOV lanes do what they were intended to do. In fact there is evidence to the contrary [].

      The 4 reasons HOV lanes fail [].
      10 modes of failure [].

      Almost ALL sites promoting HOV/carpool lanes are EPA/DOT sites spewing the same nonsense, with little evidence [].

      No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
      • (Score: 2) by bob_super on Thursday April 30 2015, @03:51PM

        by bob_super (1357) on Thursday April 30 2015, @03:51PM (#177125)

        That first link is an article written by someone with an axe to grind.
        The next two are different .docs with the same "executive summary"
        The last one is a summary of the same study.

        So, you should have put one link instead of four, because you're not citing different sources.

        I could go over each of the 7 points in the "executive summary" to point out that the methodology and phrasing are highly dubious. The sentences are not wrong, but the sample of data used as summary (HOV lanes at rush hours don't have as much efficiency as general-purpose uncongested lanes, what a concept...) clearly shows an agenda. "mean/median travel times are under two minutes apart for two miles": no shit sherlock, the question, and the incentive, is at 7:30 or 15:30! The fact the all-time mean goes up so much is pretty f'ing good, when ten miles should only take you 10 minutes! Summarize on the same stats for rush hour...

        Anyway. HOV lanes are a major incentive for people to carpool or buy a less polluting car. Many studies have pointed out that adding more lanes on freeways are only a temporary solution, with jams eventually coming back. It's one piece of a puzzle which is hard to solve, because Americans sprawl so much it's hard to have friends doing the same trip as you. And if I'm picking up strangers in my car, they'd better Uber-pay me.

        • (Score: 2) by frojack on Thursday April 30 2015, @05:35PM

          by frojack (1554) on Thursday April 30 2015, @05:35PM (#177175) Journal

          Read more carefully.
          There were two independent studies, by researchers at two different universities. They actually did research, measured flow rates.

          The pro HOV "studies" consist of nothing but assertions, trumpeted by various DOT agencies. They have never been rigorously studied with a detail traffic flow for more than the first weeks of an HOV installation.

          No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.