In the UK, AI cameras will now bust people littering and notify authorities

The installation of AI cameras comes three months after National Highways was shamed into action regarding the poor condition of the roadsides.
Sejal Sharma
Representational image
Busted! Keep that trash inside your car!


The litter problem is a problem of the herd mentality. "Other people throw rubbish out, so why can’t we?"

Isn’t it annoying when the person in front of you rolls down their car window and dumps trash on the road without a care in the world? If only there were a better way offenders could be caught and penalized for littering. Well, the U.K. government is doing something about that.

While many people are worried that artificial intelligence (AI) is going to destroy us all, it turns out that it’s also going to give us traffic fines from now onwards.

We already have cameras pointed at people coming down the road to check how fast we are going. And now, for the first time, in the U.K., there will be new AI cameras installed that will check if the drivers or passengers in a car are throwing out trash from their windows. The new AI cameras will then automatically send the identified littering offenses to the authorities, where personnel can issue a fine of up to £100 or $126.

Many U.K. highways already have regular cameras, and penalizing litter-dumping citizens is not a new concept. The authorities did so previously after having to scour through hours and hours of footage to find the offenders. The introduction of AI cameras just makes their job easier.

A pilot test for these AI cameras will run first in South East England. The initiative is part of a trial by National Highways, a body set up to maintain and improve major roads, reported Business Insider. National Highways will work in collaboration with a subsidiary of East Hampshire county council.

The Clean Up Britain Campaign, a campaign focused on finding sustainable and effective solutions to the U.K.’s epidemic of litter and fly-tipping, has earlier threatened to pursue legal action against the National Highways if the litter situation didn't improve.

The campaign, on its website, has enumerated the failures of the government in tackling the issue. First, it says that the Department of Transport, which runs National Highways, doesn't keep tabs on what NH does. Secondly, the work of cutting grass by the side of the road is split between two councils – county and local. County councils cut the grass, while the local councils are responsible for picking up litter. The campaign suggests that both do not work in tandem with each other; hence there is a huge amount of litter piling up on the highways.

The installation of AI cameras comes three months after the campaign publicly shamed National Highways into action against the poor condition of the roadsides.

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