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"[Science fiction is] nightmares and visions, always outlined by the barely possible."
- Gregory Benford

Traffic Control Camera  
  An automated camera system that photographs license plates as cars move past on a road system.  

In Methuselah's Children, Mary Risling (in the later book edition, she is called "Mary Sperling") is a member of the Howard Families, a group of people who are genetically capable of longer life. To protect themselves from the rest of humanity, they have evolved various methods to escape the surveillance devices of civilized society.

Mary Risling had no intention of permitting anyone to know where she was going. She dropped down the lift tube outside Ventura's apartment, claimed her speedy little ground car from the attending automaton in the basement, and set the control combination for North Shore. The car slid up the ramp, waited until the traffic control signaled a predicted break in traffic, then joined the high-speed northbound stream. Mary Risling settled back for a little nap...

She woke just before the signal from the car which would have called her... She signaled the traffic control ahead; it cut her out of the stream of vehicles and reduced the speed of her car, then rang the alarm which notified her to resume local control. Before doing so she fumbled in the storage compartment on the instrument board and fumbled, apparently purposelessly.

But the registration number which the traffic control automatically photographed as she left the controlway was not the number in which the car was registered.

From Methuselah's Children, by Robert Heinlein.
Published by Astounding Science-Fiction in 1941
Additional resources -

The traffic control camera is very similar to the Astucia traffic control speed camera under development in Australia.

See instantaneous kodaks for a nineteenth century version of this invention.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Methuselah's Children
  More Ideas and Technology by Robert Heinlein
  Tech news articles related to Methuselah's Children
  Tech news articles related to works by Robert Heinlein

Traffic Control Camera-related news articles:
  - Road Stud Traffic Camera Reads License Plates
  - ANPR Cams - Britain's Roadside Big Brother
  - Spy Cameras Watch Spy Cameras In UK
  - Automatic License Plate Recognition Goes Mobile

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