Whoops. The release of new number-plate combinations in Victoria has revealed a flaw in the state's Automated Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) software: it simply can't read them.
The technology was introduced in Victoria in 2009 and is now a major component in detecting unegistered vehicles and unlicensed drivers, forming part of new plans to scrap registration stickers from 2014.
This week however, Victoria Police and the Department of Justice have confirmed the ANPR system's current software cannot recognise the newly issued "1AA 1AA" combination.
The new combination replaces the depleted general-issue "AAA 111" string that was first issued in 1953.
Assistant Commissioner for road policing Robert Hill said today that the department is working with the software provider to upgrade the system "in a timely manner".
"The fact of the matter is we are unable to read newly-registered vehicles, so the vehicles are registered, that is not a concern," Mr Hill said.
"People that are actually driving a newly-registered vehicle, I would suggest that they are not likely to be the unauthorised driver, unlicenced, disqualified or suspended."
He added that the problem is not an immediate risk, but that it must be fixed "sooner rather than later" to ensure the situation does not evolve to one where vehicles with the new plates may potentially become unregistered.
The ANPR technology (when working correctly... - Ed.) can scan up to 2600 number plates per hour, cross-referencing each plate with an online database in fractions of a second.
Vehicles of interest to the police can then be intercepted instantly and pulled over.