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Technology / AI and automation


Computer Management Group Plc has landed its second road pricing contract in Europe, this time with the Swedish Government for approximately $1.2m. The roadside tolling system, part of a $3,000m ring road contract to reduce pressure on Swedish inner-city roads, involves Smart Cards in cars which will be debited instantly by tolling stations via radio. Vehicles with insufficient funds or which have chosen to be invoiced later, will be photographed and their number plates will be automatically read by the system, using infra-red imaging to help make out dirty or partially defaced plates. CMG will handle general project management and roadside-to-control technology. It will work alongside Intercai AB, which is developing car-to-roadside communications and Smart Card technology. Also involved is Norwegian engineering firm Scandiaplan A/S, which will design toll intersections and infrastructure. One potential benefit of the system according to CMG’s Associate IT Director Fritz Peters, is in monitoring the status of cars – the system could be used to detect the whereabouts of stolen cars or check to see whether vehicles are insured. Design for the project, which passed the feasibility study earlier this year, will be finished by summer next year and be operational in 1997. It is being pre-funded by the Swedish government and will pay for itself in 25 years according to CMG. Currently, components of the technology work in prototype form but haven’t been linked together. Peters says this bears out UK transport minister John MacGregor’s comment that technology wasn’t yet advanced enough to implement such a system. CMG says it will be in three or four years, which may explain the discussions it is having with the UK Department of Transport at the moment. CMG landed its first road pricing contract in 1990 with the Dutch government. This involves only the camera work however, as the Smart Card technology wasn’t sufficiently developed at the time. Design work for the Dutch system is scheduled for completion in April, in time for the Dutch elections, after which the new government can implement it, at a rough cost of $52m, and further operations cost of $26m a year.

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