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Are digital licence plates the future?

Are digital licence plates the future?

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The auto industry moves fast and it seems every aspect of the modern car has been improved, refined and succeeded many times over. All except the humble licence plate. It is still a piece of metal with stamped details and has changed very little in the past 70 years. All that might change thanks to innovation from Dubai.

Dubai is car mad. Any country that has a Bugatti Veyron, McLaren MP4-12C, Ferrari FF, Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG, BMW M6, Nissan GT-R, Mercedes-Benz G63 AMG Brabus and an Audi R8 as their police cars has to love cars. There is method in their madness though. With long straight highways and more supercars per capita than anywhere else in the world, they have to keep up to be able to keep up.

All that aside, Dubai is also a place of innovation. One such innovation to be tested is the smart licence plate.

Digital plates
The idea is simple. Take the stamped metal rectangle and make it smart. Called Tag 2 Connect, the system will display the licence number of the vehicle the majority of the time to help identification. It also has a couple of other neat tricks up its sleeve.

The Tag 2 Connect can connect to the driver’s digital wallet to pay tolls, parking and fines. It can also warn other drivers of congestion, accidents and any other road hazards ahead. The Tag 2 Connect is also being tried with a system that could display a warning on the plate if the car has been stolen.

Best of all, if the vehicle is involved in a collision, Tag 2 Connect can automatically inform the authorities on your behalf.

The system is in the testing phase right now and will not be ready for general release for a little while. The Dubai authorities will conduct tests from May through November this year and will then assess the situation from there. If all works out, expect to see digital licence plates on a car near you soon.

The future of licence plates
While all other aspects of vehicles are updated regularly, digitized, 3D printed or hydroformed, the humble licence plate hasn’t changed much at all. It is still printed on a slice of steel and stamped with the details. It is still painted and remains in place throughout the life of the car.

It has fallen behind the rest of the industry but in fairness, there has been no need to drive innovation here. Cameras can still spot it, cops can still make not of it, toll cameras still record it and you can still be instantly identified as the owner. But that doesn’t mean it should remain static. I think it will be a few years yet before we see digital licence plates but the future certainly looks good!

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