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Tönnjes, Kirpestein and NXP Complete Yearlong Vehicular ID Field Trial

The companies found that a system combining passive UHF RFID and digital camera technologies could identify 98 percent of vehicles—including battle tanks—passing through portals at high speed.
By Claire Swedberg
Jul 27, 2016

Vehicle registration and identification technology company Tönnjes, license plate manufacturer Kirpestein B.V. Automotive and RFID chipmaker NXP Semiconductor report that they have completed a trial that proves passive ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID license plates can effectively identify moving vehicles even in the most challenging environments. The three firms put the technology to the test at a Netherlands military base, via a variety of heavy military vehicles moving at high speeds to simulate some of the most difficult circumstances in which license plates might need to be read.

The test was carried out during the course of one year to determine whether agencies, such as vehicle registration departments in the Netherlands and throughout Europe, could employ Tönnjes' IDePLATE technology—which incorporates an RFID tag into a metal license plate—to identify vehicles as they move through RFID reader portals. Throughout the yearlong field trial, the companies used IDePLATE and IDeSTIX RFID tags made by Tönnjes and containing NXP's UCODE DNA UHF RFID chips. Tönnjes also supplied integration and software to manage data from the reader, as well as an automated camera. Kirpestein used the IDePLATE specifications to integrate a UCODE DNA chip into each of its license plates utilized during the test. All 100 of the vehicles involved in the testing were fitted with IDePLATE license plates, as well as with IDeSTIX adhesive RFID stickers, which are designed to be attached to windshields.

Two Kathrein RRU4-ELC-E6-KRAI readers, four Kathrein WiRa-30 antennas and a digital camera were installed on a gantry spanning a road located on the grounds of the OTCRij.
The automated identification of the military vehicles via RFID- and camera-based data was more than 98 percent successful, according to Olaf Renz, Tönnjes' managing director.

The IDePLATE license plate and IDeSTIX windshield tag, Renz says, are designed to improve the security and reliability of vehicle registration for governments, by making it easier to read a vehicle's license plate number, even if that vehicle is moving. Such data would facilitate an agency's efforts to spot a vehicle not properly registered or sporting fraudulent plates. The technology makes it difficult to counterfeit license plates, the companies explain, since each plate would require an authentic RFID tag read, while the use of an RFID windshield tag can serve as a third license plate that could be compared against a vehicle's two metal license plates, in order to ensure that the metal plates have not been swapped or counterfeited.

In addition, law-enforcement officers could use the technology to identify cars that are speeding or running red lights. Transportation departments could utilize the system as well, for the purpose of collecting tolls.

When capturing license plate ID numbers via RFID, however, a passive tag needs to be effective. That can be challenging in an outdoor environment with variable weather conditions and vehicles composed of many metallic parts. Tönnjes and Kirpestein conducted the test to prove that passive RFID technology could operate even under harsh conditions, such as when a tag is applied to military vehicles.

The field trial took place on the grounds of the Opleidings- en Trainingscentrum Rijden (OTCRij)—the Dutch Ministry of Defense's Driving Education and Training facility in Oirschot—where each military vehicle was equipped with two IDePLATEs, one mounted on the front and another mounted on the rear. In addition, an IDeSTIX RFID sticker was applied to its windshield. The OTCRij was selected because it is one of the largest training and education grounds in the Netherlands, with a wide variety of vehicles, ranging from motorcycles to battle tanks—many of which were tagged for the test.

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