Watch that Prius behind you, it could be recording your illegal moves.
Unmanned traffic cameras are a dicey subject. As spirited drivers, we think they're a little like cheating for the police. If a driver exceeded the speed limit or rolled a red light, and nothing terrible occurred, and an officer wasn't around to see it, did it really happen? Does it even matter? There are a bunch of pros and cons to those static cameras, but now Toyota wants us to tattle on each other from our vehicles.
CarBuzz has discovered a patent from the Japanese brand describing a system where its car would have cameras, specifically for recording driving infractions and sending them out to a server, where we'd assume, they would be looked over by law enforcement.
The abstract describes (and pardon the patent-speak), "The traffic violation vehicle identification system includes a first vehicle and a server. The first vehicle is configured to generate a first picture by photographing a traffic light in a travel direction of the first vehicle and an oncoming vehicle or a crossing vehicle at an intersection."
It will then "send violation vehicle information including characteristic information about a traffic violation vehicle performing a traffic violation and a first sending picture, to the server, when the first vehicle detects the traffic violation vehicle in the first picture, the first sending picture being at least a part of the first picture including an evidence picture of the traffic violation, the characteristic information being extracted from the first picture."
Basically, it'll take a picture of you running a red light.
The summary notes that installing traffic cameras at every intersection would be a huge infrastructure investment. "The disclosure provides a technology of finding a traffic violation vehicle and acquiring an evidence for identifying the traffic violation vehicle even at an intersection where a stationary camera and the like are not installed." It basically sounds like cars snitching on each other.
From the pictures we can see the layout of the cars in an intersection and how the system would work. On one hand we like the idea of catching a hit-and-run driver without having to chase them down, which we've also done. But on the other hand, we'd be pissed if we rolled a red turn arrow and some chump in a Toyota Prius narc'd us out.
We'll note that this patent just got granted, and not all patents end up as finished products. But a few years from now, if you see a 4Runner with a flashing red recording light, it might be overlanding, or it might be gathering evidence.