A few years ago, a computer scientist called Chris Carson had a realisation. Soon the streets would be filled with self-driving cars using high-quality cameras to navigate. What if those cameras could also be trained to recognise licence plates and spot traffic offences? It would be like having a hyper-efficient traffic policeman on every corner.

“We’re still pulling people over for traffic violations and writing them tickets,” says Dr Carson. “That’s so 20 years ago.”

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