Is Your Car Polluting Roadways? This New Traffic Camera May Catch You

Written by Derek Markham

The prototype of a new type of device, akin to a pollution radar device for highway traffic, has been developed at the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (UC3M), and can deliver real-time data on pollution emissions from individual vehicles, even on a multi-lane road.

The new traffic camera can be used to not just point out the vehicles responsible for most of the emissions, but also to analyze the impacts of traffic on the environment, to optimize road planning and help in the creation of policies that could decrease traffic emissions.

From UC3M:

Approximately five percent of vehicles are responsible for more than 90% of toxic emissions. With this system, it can be determined which vehicles are “big emitters” (pollute more) and policies that facilitate their identification can be created. And with this, point out the scientists, traffic emissions (CO2, CO, NOx, HC, PM) would be reduced and energy efficiency would increase, given that a decrease of emissions always implies less consumption. In addition, measures for optimizing consumption and emissions could be adopted, like varying speed limits on high capacity roads that enter and exit big cities.

The new device, which recently completed a successful demonstration trial near Madrid, is said to be the only one on the market that can accurately measure the emissions from individual vehicles, even on busy roadways. The prototype is based on an infrared multispectral image camera, and uses interferential filters to identify the distinct infrared signatures of toxic gases to determine their presence in the air.

“These filters are located in a wheel that turns at a high speed in front of the detector and they provide consecutive images of the same scene on different bands, which allows for remote detection of some unburned gases (CO2, CO and HCs),” said Fernando López, head of the UC3M’s Infrared Lab

Not only could the data from the cameras be used to remove specific vehicles with high emissions, the cameras could be used to monitor roadways and reduce the speed limits on high pollution days, to provide hard numbers to environmental campaigns or to inform infrastructure planning and development.

This post was originally published in TreeHugger

Photo Credit: UC3M


Carrie-Anne Brown

thanks for sharing :)

Fred Hoekstra
Fred Hoekstra4 years ago

Thank you TreeHugger, for Sharing this!

Lori Ann Hone
Lori Hone4 years ago

Great idea

Angela Ray
Angela Ray4 years ago

I believe it.

Marianne C.
Marianne C4 years ago

The trouble is, you KNOW that if it exists, some low-life petty tyrant -- not to suggest Scott Walker, but that little weasel does come to mind -- will try to find a way to use it against individuals. Fining people for being so poor they drive rattle-trap old jalopies would be a GREAT way to herd them into his great good friend and campaign supporter's used car lot.

If you think I'm joking, that same friend somehow managed to get a little know, seldom heard of, and even more rarely granted state dispensation to built that very car lot over a natural wetland. Where the farmer who had previously owned it wasn't even allowed to plant crops, or let cattle graze, for cryin' out loud. But for Scotty's friend, it was cleared, filled, and paved.

Do you really think the duplicitous back-stabbers of Walker's ilk, who only serve the rich, would hesitate to bilk to poor AGAIN for the good of their money-grubbing friends?

Karen C.
Karen Chestney4 years ago

Really interesting, Thanks. Any & every thing that can be done to help repair the damage we've done to the planet is great.

Rachael Clark
Rachael Clark4 years ago

Spend the money on public transit options instead.

Ken W.
Ken W4 years ago

This looks like it could do some good !!!

Steven G.
Steven G4 years ago

More big government intrusion. On the other hand, maybe this device can be used to identify the toxic emissions of industry. For a start, fracking and chemtrails come to mind.

JL A4 years ago

a better use than questionable tickets