Image Credit: nViso SA

“Do not use mobile phone while driving”, is a popular term in today’s fast mobility age. But phone use while driving remains a problem in many parts of the world. Now in an effort to dodge this issue, Australia introduced artificial intelligence-powered cameras to identify drivers using their phones while driving. This is its first kind of technology coming to the real world.

The AI cameras have rolled out by the New South Wales government. The cameras leverage artificial intelligence to recognize if someone is using their phone while driving. According to the NSW transport authority, the cameras which are both fixed and trailer-mounted will operate day and night in all weather conditions to find out drivers using their mobiles. If an image is identified as likely to show someone breaking the law this way, it will be reviewed by the authority.

In the first three months, if drivers caught using their phones will be released with a warning. Afterward, they will be fined with $344 AUD (US$233) and five penalty points, with $475 AUD (US$309) if caught in a school zone. They will also be fined 10 penalty points during double penalty periods.

With this technology, officials are confident that this will help ease down the number of incidents on the roads. In a trial of these AI cameras, more than 100,000 drivers were caught illegitimately using a phone in the first half of 2019.

Considering reports, 329 people have died on the New South Wales roads so far this year. And the state seeks to cut the number of road fatalities by 30 percent by 2021. However, the government in the state believes AI cameras may bring down the number of accidents on the roads.

Executive Director of Transport for NSW’s Centre for Road Safety Bernard Carlon said, “Independent modelling showed that this could prevent 100 fatal and serious injury crashes in the space of five years. Whether or not this happens in practice, it could certainly serve as a deterrent you may be less likely to text friends while on the road if you know that a camera might record it.”

These AI cameras are also not a big issue for privacy as these will not look for drivers’ faces. But it may shift the burden of proof to drivers on authorities. The detection network will be expanded to 45 AI-equipped cameras by 2023, as NSW Transport noted. “Images that the automated system considers likely to contain a driver illegally using a mobile phone are verified by authorised personnel,” NSW said.

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