California now testing digital license plates

Shane McGlaun - May 31, 2018, 6:44am CDT
California now testing digital license plates

A high-tech new license plate is set to hit the streets in California that replaces that old piece of metal on the back of the car with a digital device. The device looks like a traditional license plate and appears to be the sort of e-ink screen we have seen in many uses over the years. Other than showing the license plate, the digital display can also show changeable messages that are controlled by the driver or by fleet managers.

Inside the plate reportedly uses the same tech you would find in a Kindle eBook reader, a wireless communication system, a computer chip, and a battery. One key benefit of the digital plate that users can skip the DMV line and register the plates electronically. A visit to the DMV is one of the most universally hated things for all drivers.

Personal messages could also be displayed on the screen, assuming the DMV in California allows that feature to operate. Other nice things about the plate is that it could alert the owner and police to the exact location of the car (or at least the license plate) if the ride was stolen. The pilot program in the state is being conducted with Reviver Auto and the fancy plate is offered at auto dealerships, not via the DMV.

Sacramento is the first city to start the test, and the city has 24 of the plates that it is using on the in-house fleet of vehicles. All the fancy tech and convenience isn’t cheap, the plates cost $699 plus installation. There is a monthly fee of $7.

Some feel like a license plate that can tell police your location is an invasion of privacy. If the tech was widely rolled out, police would certainly use the tech to find people with warrants for their arrest, which most would see as a good thing. The plates could also alert police and other motorists if the vehicle is wanted for questioning related to something like an Amber Alert.

SOURCE: Sacremento Bee

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