California may be first to get electronic license plates

By on September 9, 2013, 8:30 AM

The California State Senate recently approved a bill that will allow residents to be the first in the nation to own electronic license plates. The bill, which has already passed the state’s assembly, now only needs approval from Governor Jerry Brown to become a reality.

Instead of a simple metal place that is updated with a sticker to display registration information, an electronic display would be used for the same purpose. The digital version could allow the plate to receive updates wirelessly when it comes time to renew the plate – effectively eliminating a visit to the local vehicle registration center each year.

But perhaps even more interesting is the ability to display specific messages on the plate. For example, if someone didn’t pay to have their tag renewed, the word EXPIRED could be displayed to better help alert law enforcement. Furthermore, messages like STOLEN could be activated when a vehicle turns up missing. It’d be much easier for cops to locate stolen vehicles this way versus current methods.

The language in the bill suggests it should be limited to a pilot program with no more than 0.5 percent of registered vehicles participating. This would give plenty of time to road test and evaluate the program before wrapping up on January 1, 2017.

Several other states including South Carolina and New Jersey are working on similar legislation. A company called Compliance Innovations is leading the charge for electronic license plates in South Carolina, we’re told.




User Comments: 43

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1 person liked this | RenGood08 RenGood08 said:

Wow...this would be pretty cool. But so many flaws in this kinda logic. Just one more thing for our mad hatter hackers to find a way around the system. They better have some high security values for this!

2 people like this | Arris Arris said:

If you look at the number of road traffic accidents in a year, that's a hell of a lot of smashed up electronic licence plates. A lot more expensive to replace than standard ones I bet.

MilwaukeeMike said:

The digital version could allow the plate to receive updates wirelessly when it comes time to renew the plate ? effectively eliminating a visit to the local vehicle registration center each year.

Who goes to the DMV to renew plates? Just mail in your check and you get your sticker back in the mail. The only time I need to jump through hoops for registration is to do emissions tests, and fancy plates won't help with that.

Still sounds like a cool idea, but would it have to be wired into the car for power? I'd hate to get pulled over because my license plate battery died.

Sniped_Ash said:

"The digital version could allow the plate to receive updates wirelessly when it comes time to renew the plate ? effectively eliminating a visit to the local vehicle registration center each year."

I don't know how they do it in California, but in Virginia we already don't have to go to the DMV to renew our registrations. Get an emissions test, pay online, get new stickers in the mail.

1 person liked this | Guest said:

Not for me. Yet another way for Big Brother to track you anywhere you go. Recent events in the news show there is not enough trust available to even tip-toe into this direction.

Roger Wilco

davislane1 davislane1 said:

Not sure I'd want an electronic plate on my car. Too many ways for one to get broken and cause trouble.

1 person liked this | fimbles fimbles said:

Hack it to "BADASS" "

MonsterZero MonsterZero said:

Who is going to pay for this? The car manufacturers? I would like to see more details as to how its installed and powered.

I currently don't have a front license plate, sure its the law, but no one pulls you over for not having it. I would be pretty unhappy to have to drill holes in the car to power this stupid idea for a license plate.

Not to mention the opportunity to change your plates on the fly once someone figures that out. Honestly this is a waste of taxpayer money, you already have a damn camera on your car that captures and reads the license plates, what good does a digital one do for you other than cost the state and in turn its citizens more $$.

Being able to recognize a stole or expired registration does not help YOU.....but it will COST you.

Guest said:

Make it read as "stolen" to aid law enforcement? hilarious

just pull the plate off, swap it with an out of state plate that isnt electronic like everyone else already does, problem solved and law enforcement thwarted yet again.

MilwaukeeMike said:

Who is going to pay for this? The car manufacturers? I would like to see more details as to how its installed and powered.

I currently don't have a front license plate, sure its the law, but no one pulls you over for not having it. I would be pretty unhappy to have to drill holes in the car to power this stupid idea for a license plate.

Not to mention the opportunity to change your plates on the fly once someone figures that out. Honestly this is a waste of taxpayer money, you already have a damn camera on your car that captures and reads the license plates, what good does a digital one do for you other than cost the state and in turn its citizens more $$.

Being able to recognize a stole or expired registration does not help YOU.....but it will COST you.

Lol, funny you mention front plates. I actually have a different plate on the front than I do on the back. My back one fell off (or was stolen) and I never put the new one on the front. Been like that for about 18 months now, and no one's noticed.

I'm usually on the side of 'Don't spend extra money', but how much would these really cost? Electronics are pretty cheap nowadays and this would be a pretty simple device.

Many drivers are already tracked because of their RFID toll paying devices like iPass etc. The rest are tracked anonymously because their cell phones give off signals. It helps with traffic reports.

What will be annoying is having someone take the batteries out of your plate to put in theirs. That'll get old real fast.

Skidmarksdeluxe Skidmarksdeluxe said:

I want one of those James Bond type plates... You know, the ones that can change all the details at the push of a button, then I can go screaming along the highway at 200 mph in my beat up jalopy ignoring the radar camera's.

Guest said:

No thanks.

If the government can wirelessly access my car, then they can also track me. They log where I've been, and how long it took me to drive there. Only a matter of time before E-Plate owners get a bill in the mail for a drive to work taking 5 minutes less than speed limits allow or a bill for parking in a no parking zone, or exceeding parking time limits. But of course, that comes after cross referencing every stop you've ever made with the NSA's database, and sending someone from the DHS to interview you.

Renrew Renrew said:

No thanks.

Another Land of the Lost bureaucratic boondoggle.

Guest said:

It is true that they will want to track you and possibly charge you for getting to work in impossible legal times. It is more bullshit. The technological age is a blessing for this fat cats. It protects their capitalistic ways. And see, you say no thanks. As would be your right... but you have no rights when it comes to what they want you to do, and so they will make a law within which, you may not drive without it. So. Now what ? Black market plates ? Or overthrow the governments of the world who have not your best interests at heart at all.

You are under the illusion people that you are free. You are slaves.

But on another not. WTF is with actually having to renew plates each year ? What purpose does that serve ? Whats the UK equivalent of this if any?

amstech amstech, TechSpot Enthusiast, said:

Sounds like Shawn just needed a reason to post a pic of his car :p

Vrmithrax Vrmithrax, TechSpot Paladin, said:

This is one of those typical new electronics situations... Sounds great on paper, easy to justify in theory, but real-world considerations like actual practical application and the potentials for abuse just never seem to cloud the judgement of those people who come up with the concepts... It's usually either a case of some intensely polarized rose-colored glasses not letting the idealists see the down sides, or there are some nefarious plans behind the concept that are purposely buried by glossing over the negatives when presented to the public. These days, it's usually hard to tell.

Adhmuz Adhmuz, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Power, very easy, just wire it in to the license plate lights which all cars have and are on all the time when the car is running, I live someplace where we only have rear plates so solves the problem here, not sure about the front plate, but that wouldn't be hard either considering the cars battery is usually a couple feet away under the hood. This then raises the question, what about when the car is parked? A rechargeable will only last so long. The "stolen" or "expired" message would be redundant because its a wireless plate, if a cop drove by within a hundred feet he would know and be able to locate the vehicle like a homing beacon. This could also work if the plate has been tampered with, so irrelevant of what the plate says the cops are going to know somethings up without having to make eye contact with the plate. Price to have this on a new vehicle would be invisible, IE included in the price, or when transferring ownership it would just be included in the tax somewhere. Not like a board with a series of 7 segment displays will cost that much to make in mass quantities. And why are people co concerned about being tracked, unless your doing something illegal you shouldn't have anything to worry about. Besides, this plate will only be adding to the already present cell phone and in car gps, laptop, tablet, ect. If you don't want to be tracked remove all your electronic devices and walk or bike.

tipstir tipstir, TS Ambassador, said:

What they should do just have universal bar code plate with white background and barcode in black. This plate would come from the dealer when you buy a new vehicle. He would be designed for your vehicle only.

Police or Sheriff departments would have built-in scanners in the front of patrol vehicles to scan ever plate for issues if deem so. Scanners could be placed at every traffic light. This type of system would be better and no need to have each state have their own name plates. Should be just called United States Resident.

UNITED STATES

||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||

FLA - RESIDENT

UNITED STATES

||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||

FLA - SHERIFF

UNITED STATES

||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||

FLA - GOVERNM

No more vanity plates would be outlawed.

JC713 JC713 said:

I dont mind this. This could take away some of the drag introduced through the use of license plates.

Scavengers Scavengers said:

The digital version could allow the plate to receive updates wirelessly when it comes time to renew the plate ? effectively eliminating a visit to the local vehicle registration center each year.

Who goes to the DMV to renew plates? Just mail in your check and you get your sticker back in the mail. The only time I need to jump through hoops for registration is to do emissions tests, and fancy plates won't help with that.

Still sounds like a cool idea, but would it have to be wired into the car for power? I'd hate to get pulled over because my license plate battery died.

Oh hell Mike who uses checks anymore?

I just log on to the DOT site here in PA and renew online.

I print out a new, temporary owners card and my sticker comes in about 5 days.

Dave

p51d007 said:

Sorry, not on my car as long as I can keep it off. Plus, if the day comes that they do this, I'm wrapping foil around it in an attempt to keep the tracking off of it. Oh, but you are paranoid...what have you got to hide? Sorry, just because I"m NOT doing anything illegal, is no reason they can VIOLATE my constitutional rights of free travel in the USA. How many more years do we have left, before you have to show your papers when you drive around?

davislane1 davislane1 said:

This is one of those typical new electronics situations... Sounds great on paper, easy to justify in theory, but real-world considerations like actual practical application and the potentials for abuse just never seem to cloud the judgement of those people who come up with the concepts... It's usually either a case of some intensely polarized rose-colored glasses not letting the idealists see the down sides, or there are some nefarious plans behind the concept that are purposely buried by glossing over the negatives when presented to the public. These days, it's usually hard to tell.

No, it's not. We just have to perform basic tests to determine the negatives:

Did the idea originate in government? If yes, it will be horribly ineffective and create an unknown number new problems.

Did the idea originate in a corporate setting? If yes, there will be a nefarious endgame.

Was the idea a collaboration between these two groups? If yes, it will be disastrous but incredibly lucrative.

Simple.

Vrmithrax Vrmithrax, TechSpot Paladin, said:

This is one of those typical new electronics situations... Sounds great on paper, easy to justify in theory, but real-world considerations like actual practical application and the potentials for abuse just never seem to cloud the judgement of those people who come up with the concepts... It's usually either a case of some intensely polarized rose-colored glasses not letting the idealists see the down sides, or there are some nefarious plans behind the concept that are purposely buried by glossing over the negatives when presented to the public. These days, it's usually hard to tell.

No, it's not. We just have to perform basic tests to determine the negatives:

Did the idea originate in government? If yes, it will be horribly ineffective and create an unknown number new problems.

Did the idea originate in a corporate setting? If yes, there will be a nefarious endgame.

Was the idea a collaboration between these two groups? If yes, it will be disastrous but incredibly lucrative.

Simple.

So, what you are saying is, it's either a Lose, Lose, or Lose/Lose scenario?

davislane1 davislane1 said:

So, what you are saying is, it's either a Lose, Lose, or Lose/Lose scenario?

Pretty much. There is a silver lining, though. If it's a collaborative idea you can park money in the stock of whatever companies the bill's authors wind up consulting for.

tipstir tipstir, TS Ambassador, said:

This would be an end to all the plates being taken off the cars and and sold for other uses. I've been in some states in the North East that have plates stolen. Up there people bolt their plates to the vehicle or stick it inside the vehicle in the rear glass. But that rear glass can get smashed just for the plate.

Freedom should not come into play. We need a better system today. I am for it! As my state keeps on changing the state plate just because they want too and charge you. So much if you want something fancier where no one really cares what your plate really looks like except you.

tonylukac said:

All those "illegal immigrants" can hack and get them. How do they drive anyway?

dennis777 dennis777 said:

Nice idea it has WiFi, add some Bluetooth and a 18megapixel camera... hope its water proof.

ikesmasher said:

Honestly I can't see this being infringing to freedoms in any way, and it certainly helps in discovering lost vehicles (if the thief is stupid enough to leave it on)

Honestly, it SHOULD have a camera on it, and could make backup cameras fairly standard on all cars.

These could cost less than $100 with a camera and say, a 320x640 screen. Less than that even maybe.

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I don't know why they would spend time pissing with this concept.

Every car can be programmed to broadcast the VIN code. With this VIN broadcast, any officer can check their database for automobiles not licensed for highway use. Insurance records could also be tied into the same database. Anytime the automobile is serviced the VIN broadcast can be authenticated with the automobiles physical VIN code. The broadcast doesn't have to be long range and the patrol car can be automated to look for discrepancies, out of all the nearby automobiles and lock in on those signals.

tipstir tipstir, TS Ambassador, said:

VIN can be removed... DMV cost going up and up.. Can only save on the cost by paying for two years of registration in advance online. Never in person the lines are ridiculous of course they have this new name system in place. Still titles and plates and now land taxes all at the same place ouch!

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

VIN can be removed...
So can license plates, no matter how technical they get. I don't see your point. Especially when your licenses plate is registered using the VIN code on record.

Arris Arris said:

This could take away some of the drag introduced through the use of license plates.

Only if they are more aerodynamic than the standard plates

JC713 JC713 said:

Only if they are more aerodynamic than the standard plates

Lol

Emexrulsier said:

Why do you renew plates every year in the US?? In the UK you buy a car with a registration mark and that's it nothing more to do unless you sell or transfer the car, then it's a simple case of letting the DVLA (Uk licensing agency) know the new keeper.

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Why do you renew plates every year in the US??
Because our government will find anything to charge us repetitiously.

Tygerstrike said:

A great idea on paper. Execution however not to mention adoption is going to be slow. Mainly from what we have seen in just the posts here. ppl are too paranoid to introduce new tech to them. Reguardless of the fact that youre tracked everywhere you go everyday and have been since cellphones came out. Thats all besides the point. Where is the American spirit? Where is the American Fire?? Here we have a somewhat acceptable solution to a multitude of problems and ppl wont take it because they dont want to be tracked. Let me be the first to tell all those paranoid idjits this.....THEY DO NOT CARE ABOUT YOU!!!! Them tracking you is no different from tracking a fly in flight. Or watching a train go by. Its information but definatly NOT related to what they are doing. YOU ARE NOT IMPORTANT ENOUGH FOR THEM TO WASTE TIME AND MANPOWER TO TRACK YOU!!!

That being said, this is a good idea. Maybe not have the wifi on at all times but at designated areas such as mechanics, smog checks, tire changes. This would help Amber Alerts. This could help stop abductions. The level of problems this tech could solve is actually quite amazing. Its just sad that the fruits nuts and flakes of the world will make sure this tech gets no farther then its current state.

mailpup mailpup said:

Tygerstrike, please hold down the shouting.

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I don't understand why such a big deal about using all caps. Now if the whole post was all caps or if it was directed at someone specific, I might would understand.

1 person liked this | gunste24 said:

More unnecessary costs. You can register and get your tags by mail in California - no need to go to the DMV offices. Most likely, such plates would have a chip in it so that you can be identified in passing - privacy.

1 person liked this | sameh_riad said:

Wow...this would be pretty cool. But so many flaws in this kinda logic. Just one more thing for our mad hatter hackers to find a way around the system. They better have some high security values for this!

I totally agree. The first thing that came to my mind was hackers hacking on to this system and announcing that all cars were stold, like the eagle eye movie :) or even someone renewing his own license plate without even having to pay. oh weird hope that doesn't prove I have a devious mind set :)

Darth Shiv Darth Shiv said:

Who goes to the DMV to renew plates? Just mail in your check and you get your sticker back in the mail. The only time I need to jump through hoops for registration is to do emissions tests, and fancy plates won't help with that.

Still sounds like a cool idea, but would it have to be wired into the car for power? I'd hate to get pulled over because my license plate battery died.

We don't do stickers in NSW, Australia anymore. Still have the physical plates but police do IR scanning now so they can just sit on the road and scan everyone with IR scanning in an over 90 degree arc. Apparently collected several hundred million plates, datetimes and GPS locations on file.

Apparently there has been a court case (I think actually in SF) where these sort of records were subpoenaed in the divorce court. Interesting privacy implications for this sort of data collection on innocent people.

Darth Shiv Darth Shiv said:

More unnecessary costs. You can register and get your tags by mail in California - no need to go to the DMV offices. Most likely, such plates would have a chip in it so that you can be identified in passing - privacy.

Exactly. Imagine your every move is tracked and stored in a database. Now imagine if someone manages to get unethical access to data on your movements. What if this person was a competitor? Your ex? Who knows... it's a privacy minefield.

Surely the default should be to not store tonnes of data on innocent people?

RenGood08 RenGood08 said:

I totally agree. The first thing that came to my mind was hackers hacking on to this system and announcing that all cars were stold, like the eagle eye movie or even someone renewing his own license plate without even having to pay. oh weird hope that doesn't prove I have a devious mind set

To be in information security, you need to have a devious mindset. My interest is to get into Information Security. In order to be ahead of the evil minded hackers, you have to have a rather similar mindset so you can slow them down or stop them. =D All in due time. All in due time.

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