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Efkon Announces HOT Technology for Electronic Tolling

Based on RFID and IR technology, the device aims to help ensure that drivers pay their fare share when using high-occupancy toll lanes.
By Mary Catherine O'Connor
Oct 03, 2006Some tolling agencies have begun converting high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes into high-occupancy toll (HOT) lanes. HOT lanes allow multiple-occupancy vehicles free access during off-peak times of the day, while charging all vehicles during peak-usage hours to maximize traffic flow and encourage ride sharing.

To determine the number of occupants in a given vehicle, agencies offering HOT lanes are testing a range of methods, says Christine Bowrey, an applications engineer at Efkon USA, a Texas subsidiary of Austrian traffic-management and tolling technology provider Efkon. These methods range from facial-recognition cameras mounted around tollbooths to systems that are completely manual.

RFID and IR technology are converting some high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes into high-occupancy toll (HOT) lanes.
However, Bowrey explains, such methods are either unreliable (tinted windows, for instance, might mask some occupants from cameras) or too slow and labor-intensive. Efkon USA, she says, is now marketing a system designed to solve this problem. The product, called HOT Shot, is based on ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID and infrared (IR) technology that will charge driver accounts linked to RFID transponders attached to vehicle windshields.

The HOT Shot concept would put the onus on the occupants to convey the number of occupants in the vehicle before entering a HOT lane. HOT Shot consists of a compact device (13 by 6 by 2 centimeters) carried inside a vehicle and containing a UHF RFID active transponder for transmitting the driver's ID to an electronic toll collection system. It also utilizes a high-frequency (HF) interrogator, a fingerprint scanner and an IR transponder.

After a driver registers for a HOT Shot device from a local tolling agency, that person and up to seven passengers who regularly ride in the vehicle are added to a list of occupants linked to that device. During registration at the tolling agency, the driver and occupants must submit to a fingerprint scan, which is encoded to an RFID-enabled smart card—containing an NXP Mifare ISO 14443 standard HF tag—issued to each registrant. This card must be carried whenever a person uses the HOT system.

Before driving through a HOT lane, each occupant in the car—who must already be listed in the database of registered drivers or occupants—presents the smart card to the HOT Shot device. The device reads each card and prompts its owner to swipe a finger across the scanner for authentication purposes. According to Efkon, the system enables the account holder to use the HOT lanes and be charged accurately, based on the number of passengers in the car.

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