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Australia rolls out world-first AI camera system to catch drivers on their phones

Mashable 02 Dec 2019 06:46
Image: Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock

One Australian state government has become the first in the world to implement a statewide camera program to automatically detect drivers using their cell phones.

The program began its rollout in the state of New South Wales on December 1 following a six-month trial earlier this year, which the government claims caught over 100,000 drivers. Similar technology has been tested in England and Saudi Arabia, but the NSW program marks the first time it has been implemented on a wide scale.

There won't be any signs signalling the cameras' presence, either. "We have to unfortunately use the element of surprise to get people to think 'well, I could get caught at any time'," said NSW Roads Minister Andrew Constance. "I want behaviour to change and I want it changed immediately."

The cell phone detection cameras can't actually identify people using their phones in real time. Instead, it takes photographs of every single vehicle that strays across its lens, using artificial intelligence to analyse them later. If the software detects a probable offender, the image is then verified by an employee before a penalty notice is sent out.

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NSW governmentNSWAIMichael MantajNSW Roads