Paris is testing sound radar technology to catch street racers. Should London, Ont.?

·3 min read
An example of how Viginoiz's technology is able to pinpoint the source of a loud noise, grab the licence plate number and issue a ticket. (Viginoiz - image credit)
An example of how Viginoiz's technology is able to pinpoint the source of a loud noise, grab the licence plate number and issue a ticket. (Viginoiz - image credit)

A tech firm in Paris, France, is testing sound radar technology that can pinpoint the source of an ear-splitting modified muffler, capture the vehicle's licence plate, and send the driver a fine.

"The modification of the mufflers is illegal," said Raphaël Coulmann, Viginoiz international relations and business inquiries manager. "However, there are not many solutions to tackle that problem. This is precisely why we developed our solution to target those who modify their mufflers and are illegally loud."

However, Viginoiz's technology could hold promise for other cities, including London, Ont., where people have been complaining about it to CBC News in recent weeks.

Earlier this summer, city councillors in Fredericton, N.B., expressed interest in the technology.

They're snapping, and popping, and cracking and lighting little flames at the back of their tailpipes when they're revving those engines. - OPP Sgt. Kerry Schmidt

The technology starts with a sensor that "consists of four different microphones and a 360-degree camera in the middle," said Coulmann. Two sensors are then combined with an Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) camera, which would trigger a ticket mail-out to the drivers of noisy vehicles.

 

Viginoiz's sound radar costs €10,000 (about $13,000 Cdn) without taxes, he said.

Viginoiz
Viginoiz

"This device is currently being tested in three different locations in the greater Paris area," said Coulmann. So far, it is not delivering tickets.

Viginoiz is a subsidiary of the non-profit research organization Bruitparif, which conducts studies on the sound environment in the greater Paris area.

The company first tested its sound radar on a track, is currently testing it in Paris, Saint Lambert des Bois and Villeneuve-le-Roi, and will soon study its success at a national laboratory, said Coulmann.

Viginoiz
Viginoiz

Street racing a problem across Ontario

"[Street racing] is a bone of contention and frustration for so many people, myself included, and I hear that from my streets as well," said Ontario Provincial Police Sgt. Kerry Schmidt in a recent interview with CBC News.

"What gets your attention very often is the noise that you hear from them as they're snapping, and popping, and cracking and lighting little flames at the back of their tailpipes when they're revving those engines," he said.

For now, Schmidt is encouraging people to call police if they know of any problem drivers in their neighbourhood.

"Please call us or your local police service as well. We can certainly put patrols in there," although he admitted police are often busy with higher priority calls.

What does the law allow?

France is currently reviewing legislation to determine if current laws would allow for the use of sound radar technology in ticketing, said Coulmann.

Viginoiz
Viginoiz

"We'll still need to see how it will be possible legally, if there needs to be state legislation. If cities have the power to legalize those systems in their own town."

There is another option, one that the city of Barcelona, Spain, has employed, said Coulmann.

It's an educational radar, he said.

Viginoiz
Viginoiz

"It sends a message on a display board. For example, 'too loud,' or 'vehicle too loud' or 'beware of the noise," said Coulmann. "Their priority is not to fine loud drivers, but they will first send mail to the driver inviting him to get his vehicle tested."