NXP and partners complete RFID trial using over 100 military vehicles

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A year-long project in the Netherlands has been testing the effectiveness of cryptographically-encoded RFID-based electronic license plates and their potential for widespread use.

After 12 months of testing in various weather conditions with over 100 assorted military vehicles, and at different speeds, the three project partners, NXP Semiconductors, Tönnjes, and Kirpestein, have presented the results of the first field trial of IDePLATEs (electronically-identified license plates).

The field trial confirmed the secure, robust, effective, and reliable use of RFID (radio frequency identification) technology for vehicle identification and recognition. In the collaboration, NXP provided embedded technology in the license plates, Tönnjes integrated the system, and Kirpestein manufactured the license plates and provided project management support.

The trial started in 2015 and took place at the military base in Oirschot, the Netherlands. Cars and trucks were equipped with IDePLATEs and IDeSTIXs, windshield labels with integrated passive RFID chips. Authorized RFID reading units, mounted on a gantry, continuously read the privacy-protected unique chip IDs on the license plates and windshield labels of passing vehicles.

The RFID chips in the field trial used the latest long-range crypto technology developed by NXP. The company’s UCODE DNA IC (integrated circuit) applies the latest security standards, and works with cryptographic authentication, even over distances of up to 40ft (12m) and at speeds up to 93mph (150km/h). Bringing security to passive long range RFID, the UCODE DNA IC combines exceptional long-range contactless performance with cutting-edge cryptographic security implementation for tag authentication.

“Different challenges were overcome with the field trial,” said Koert Kirpestein, owner and general manager of Kirpestein. “Many military vehicles are equipped with additional metal cladding and grits, which caused interferences for RFID tag antennas. The major challenge was to ensure a reliable identification and verification of IDePLATE and IDeSTIX even with those vehicles. The trial enabled optimizing the results by securing the interaction between hardware and software. These adjustments ensured a secure verification even at high speeds.”

Maurice Geraets, managing director of NXP Netherlands, commented, “We are committed to offering solutions that include security features. The UCODE DNA chips are designed to reveal identity information to authorized parties only. The chips send identity information in highly secured transmissions, so that only RFID readers, stationary or handhelds, which have access to the corresponding secret cryptographic keys, can decipher this information. With this technology, only authorized readers can monitor which cars are driving where.”

Olaf Renz, managing director Tönnjes, added, “The successful results of the field trial have already led to large scale implementation of the applied chips in electronic license plate projects in South America. As the solution fully supports a privacy respective implementation for all cars, and as the costs of equipping cars with electronic license plates are relatively getting lower, e-plates are ready for large scale deployment in Europe. The technology can be used for tamper proof vehicle registration and identification, traffic management, parking, and access control.” 

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International magazine and the Traffic Technology Today website since he joined the company in May 2014. Prior to this he worked on some of the UK's leading consumer magazine titles including Men's Health and Glamour, beginning his career in journalism in 1997 after graduating with a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).

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