How Electronic License Plates Might Change the World


Automobile technology is evolving and our cars get smarter every year, but there seems to be a huge gap between the cars and the way we register them with the authorities. After all, the aluminum slab used to print the car’s registration number on it is the same one we used since the car was first invented. There’s nothing new to add to it and it doesn’t serve any other purpose except the one it was created for.

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Even more, the current license plate display is difficult to produce, it takes a lot to replace, and requires constant maintenance if you want to keep it in pristine condition. It’s a device that needs to be literally hammered down and it doesn’t really fit in the era of touchscreens and Bluetooth technology.

This is why electronic license plates were invented! Right now, this type of plates is in tests, but I think it’s only a matter of time before we get to use them on our cars.

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What are Electronic License Plates?

While the idea of a ‘smart’ license plate is not a new thing in the industry, no one actually got the technology to create a viable concept. Well, that is until 2017 when, at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, a San Francisco tech company created a unique platform that can support the concept in real-life situations.

Basically, your regular plate will be replaced by an LCD screen that displays the registration number in a digital format. But the amazing part is not necessarily in the fact that you’ll be replacing a piece of aluminum with an LCD screen; the amazing part is in the customization possibilities and the type of information the plate can display.

For instance, this type of plate can let people around you know that your insurance is expired. It can also alert the authorities on any irregularities on your car, making the screening processes so much easier. Even more, if you decide to buy a private license plate on, you no longer have to worry that the numbers won’t be printed out at the correct distance on the new plate. An electronic plate can be updated directly by the DVLA, and any edits can be done by simply pressing a few buttons.

How will they Change the World?

The new platform behind the electronic plate is called rPlate and has the possibility to display a wide range of information while also sending and receiving data.

Communication between Cars

Besides showing the registration number, rPlate can also display messages for the other drivers, communicate with other cars and objects, keep an accurate track of our itinerary, and more. The electronic plate could be the device used by cars to talk with each other and send information via WiFi or Bluetooth when they’re passing by or driving in the same lane.

Better Application of the Law

The possibilities are limitless right now, but the most important aspect is that they make the job easier for the authorities. Nowadays, the police find drivers with expired insurance by organizing filters or by mere accident, but this is not efficient as many go by undiscovered. However, when an intelligent license plate will start flashing the information ‘Uninsured’, people will definitely notice.

So, you can see how such a device could help reduce risky driving and bring more money to the public budget.

Identifying Stolen Cars

Another use for a license plate that can communicate with other objects is to identify cars that were stolen. For instance, because the plate has the possibility to receive messages, the police could simply send a message, asking the plate to display the message ‘Stolen’. I am sure this message won’t be ignored by other traffic participants and crime rate in this niche will drop down extremely fast.

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Are there Risks?

For now, the device is still in testing and, like with any electronic devices out there, there are risks involved. The most obvious one is the risk of hacking, but with several layers of solid security, this can be diminished. Another problem that needs solving is visibility in the sunlight – which can be a huge problem with regular LCD screens.

For now, authorities also have to consider the costs involved for such an implementation, durability, and other aspects so it may take a while before we get to see them on the streets.


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