PIPS supply ANPR cameras for Londons Blackwall Tunnel



PIPS Technology has supplied ANPR (Automatic Number Plate Recognition) cameras for use in an Over-height Vehicle Detection system for London’s Blackwall Tunnel. The project was coordinated by VMS Limited and completed on behalf of Transport for London via Serco.

The Blackwall Tunnel is a free tunnel which runs under the River Thames in the UK, from Blackwall Point in East Greenwich, to East India Dock Road in Poplar. At the time of opening, the Blackwall Tunnel was the longest running underwater tunnel in the world.

Traffic has increased vastly since the tunnel opened and improvements have needed to be made, including the opening of a second lane in 1967. In recent times, vehicles can be too high to pass under the tunnel resulting in increased congestion. The Over-height Vehicle Detection system, which PIPS has been involved in, is making this issue a thing of the past.

The project consists of two systems, at different distances from the tunnel, which alert the drivers of over-height vehicles to alternative routes across the river. PIPS Technology supplied six of their P372 Spike+ ANPR cameras to the system.

Each of the systems consists of Over-height Vehicle Detectors (OVD) and Over-height Vehicle Lane Detectors (OVLD) each supplied by Coeval Group, PIPS’ Spike+ ANPR cameras, Variable Message Signs (VMS) and a Vehicle Detection Unit (VDU) from VMS Limited.

The first of the systems is located 3km from the entrance to the tunnel and the second is 500m from the entrance. As a vehicle approaches the warning systems the cross-carriageway OVD will send a message to the VMS if the vehicle is over the designated height of 4m or 2.8m and a default over-height message will appear on the VMS.

Next the vehicle will pass under the OVLD which sends a signal to the VDU to let PIPS’ Spike+ ANPR cameras know which lane the vehicle is in and which number plate to read. PIPS’ cameras send the number plate details of the vehicle to the VMS so that it can be included in the message display.

David Hargreaves, Principal VMS Engineer from VMS Limited has said “The key of this system is the speed at which all equipment operates to enable the licence plate information to be displayed in time for the driver to view it. PIPS’ cameras are very reliable for this solution due to their high number plate capture rate.”

System one has been installed as the initial warning system to inform drivers of the over-height restrictions ahead. System two is designed to divert the over-height vehicles into the correct lane or away from the tunnel.

The Over-height Vehicle Detection system is very secure and by including two systems it incorporates dual-redundant detection methods so, in the unlikely event of one system missing an over-height vehicle, the other will capture it. None of the licence plate information captured is logged for any other use.

Steve Gest, Customer Service Manager from PIPS Technology, was responsible for installing PIPS Spike+ cameras. Steve commented “This is a unique system for PIPS Technology and it was very interesting to be involved. Working with VMS Limited has been a great experience and I am confident that the solution we have installed will continue to run smoothly long into the future.”


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