Cool Number: The digital license plate

The world is digital, but signing up for a new car could not be more analogous. Hiring at the vehicle registration, fill out forms, pay, print license plate, pay again, TÜV stamp on it, screw on. It is hardly old-fashioned, time-consuming and complicated. That’s going to change.

The autonomous electric cars that drive through our cities in five or ten years certainly do not carry any of these tinny Stone Age plates anymore. Because even at the license plate, the future has already begun. It gets digital, it gets smart, and it does a lot of tricks. LEAD reveals how the license plate of tomorrow works.

California is the first to retrofit

Reviver Auto is the name of the company from San Francisco, the world leader in this technology. By the end of the year in California and especially in the capital Sacramento already thousands of cars in the context of a field test with the smart numbers on the road. In total, the government of California allows 175,000 such approvals in a first step. Initially, only the sign at the rear of a mini-computer with an e-ink display is replaced – the technology with e-book readers such as the Amazon Kindle is comparable.


The two key advantages of these black and white screens: they are still brilliantly readable even in glistening sun. And they only consume power when the display changes. This only requires a relatively small built-in battery.

The so-called “RPlate Pro” is equipped with a mobile radio connection and GPS tracking. This enables functions that are unthinkable with conventional license plates. By default, the system displays the license plate as usual and is virtually indistinguishable from a normal license plate. By app or radio contact comes life in the highly theft-proof signs.

If a car is reported stolen, the police play a “stolen” on the license plate, as a signal for each patrol. Too far, the thief should not come then. The RPlates can display parking tickets, handicapped ID cards, local traffic information and accident alerts for the people behind – or even advertising. If the space is not enough, the actual license plate moves into the upper right corner of the sign, the rest is at leisure.

Extrovert owners can also show their name, face, greetings to the environment or the classic “Jennifer aboard”. The security level of the ad according to the manufacturer Reviver Auto is comparable to online banking. In the future, the digital license plates are intended to drastically simplify the registration and re-registration of cars because the number and time of approval can be changed at any time.

  • 1 license plate
    The new digital number plates – with a screen like the e-book reader Amazon Kindle (Photo: Reviver Auto)
  • 4 Stolen
    Car stolen – the number plate shows it by radio signal to the police (Photo: Reviver Auto)
  • 5 advertising
    Advertising is also possible on the signs, then the license plate moves to the upper right (Photo: Reviver Auto)
  • 7 parking ticket
    The parking ticket does not have to be behind the window
    (Photo: Reviver Auto)
  • 8 wanted call
    Search requests (of course for another car) can thus be spread throughout the traffic (Reviver Auto)
  • 9 technology
    A small computer – the technology of the digital license plate (Reviver Auto)

Louis Stewart, head of innovation for the Sacramento city council, wants to provide high-tech companies in the region with a perfect test environment: “We see ourselves as a kind of laboratory. And we say to the companies: Test your inventions in Sacramento, and you’ll see how well your product or service works. “The city hopes to get traffic planning and autonomous vehicle data in particular:” If we can see exactly Driving the cars and driving the cars makes it a lot easier for us. “

The possibility of seamless monitoring of the cars by GPS by authorities is one of the critical aspects of the new technology – but relativized in the face of the countless cameras in large cities, which anyway no car driver can escape.

Another disadvantage: The signs are currently still sinfully expensive. A private car holder per license plate has to pay 699 dollars (600 euros) plus a monthly fee of seven dollars (six euros). That’s why fleet operators and urban vehicles are now the target group rather than private users. In the future, it should be drastically cheaper – which could happen relatively quickly given the low cost of e-ink displays and wireless technology.

No escape from nodules

A test for digital license plates is already in progress in Dubai. From the Emirate on the Gulf come good and bad news for motorists. The good: As soon as the smart license plate registers an accident, it calls the police independently, and depending on the violence also rescue workers. This can be extremely important in an emergency. The bad news: In the data of the plate is also the credit card number of the car holder registered. Penalties for traffic violations are thus charged “live” and in real time.

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