LTA Deploying Device Built by 21YO to Solve Problem of Inspecting Under Cars with Low Frames

Last Updated on 2023-05-22 , 5:11 pm

The Land Transport Authority (LTA), in collaboration with Temasek Polytechnic (TP), has developed a new Vehicle Undercarriage Inspection Device (VID), set to be released to the public by the end of May 2023. 

This innovative device aims to enable LTA’s enforcement officers to conduct safer and more efficient checks for illegal vehicle modifications.

The initiative comes in response to the rising number of illegally modified cars in Singapore. 

From 2020 to 2022, the LTA issued approximately 2,300 summonses annually for illegal modifications on both light and heavy goods commercial vehicles.

As such, by the end of May 2023, four of these lightweight devices, weighing 1.5kg each, will be deployed, with a total of 14 devices slated for eventual deployment to the LTA. 

Additional devices will be progressively deployed by the end of 2023 based on the requirements of LTA’s officers.

Developed New Device with 21 Year Old Temasek Polytechnic Graduate

The collaborative project between TP and LTA was led by Mr Peter Lim, Senior Lecturer of Engineering at TP, along with the contributions of Mr Muhammad Haziq Bin Roslan, a 21-year-old graduate from TP’s Diploma in Mechatronics program. 

Image: Land Transport Authority (LTA)

Mr Haziq, who has secured a place in the Singapore University of Technology and Design’s Engineering Product Development program (SUTD), played a significant role in building the device, which took six months to complete.

The remote-controlled device features a movable camera and a built-in light source, enabling enforcement officers to inspect the undercarriage of vehicles through a live video feed without having to lie on the ground physically. 

Image: Land Transport Authority (LTA)

Additionally, with dimensions of 18cm by 19cm and a height of 9cm, the device’s compact size allows it to manoeuvre easily beneath vehicles with low-lying undercarriages.

With a 360-degree rotation capability and adjustable vertical movement of the camera, officers can also quickly identify illegal car modifications such as the removal of the vehicle’s exhaust emission control device or muffler box, a device which aids in dampening vehicle emissions and engine noise, as well as potential modifications like welding marks.

Each device offers a battery life of up to two hours and requires one hour for recharging. 

To date, 14 of these devices have been constructed. 

The first batch of four devices will be released to the LTA in May 2023, with TP closely monitoring and addressing any issues that may arise before releasing the remaining ten devices to the LTA. 

TP will also work closely with the LTA to provide maintenance support on the gadgets and train their officers on effectively using the devices, enhancing their investigative capabilities.

According to Mr Stephen Tan, LTA’s Senior Manager of Vehicle Enforcement, the new device is both affordable and highly effective. 

With a production cost of less than $2,500 per unit, including operation and maintenance expenses, it significantly reduces search times during inspections.

Rising Cases of Illegally Modified Vehicles Prompt Measures

Between 2018 and 2022, the LTA reported approximately 3,600 cases of illegal modifications on cars, 2,200 on commercial vehicles, and 2,000 involving motorcycles.

The most common violations were related to modifications made to exhaust systems in an attempt to enhance engine performance, excessively tinted windows, and distracting lighting installations that could pose risks to other drivers or passengers on the road.

According to the LTA, various vehicle modifications such as the installation of air horns, crash bars, undercarriage neon lights, and the removal of motorcycle chain guards, and more, are all considered illegal.

According to the LTA, common illegal modifications like tampering with exhaust systems can compromise a vehicle’s reliability and increase safety risks for drivers and other road users. 

These modifications can also impact the vehicle’s noise and exhaust emissions.

Moreover, the use of unlawfully colored decorative lights on cars can not only distract but also dangerously blind oncoming traffic.

Vehicles with tinted windows that do not meet international safety standards can also obstruct the driver’s clear line of sight, leading to hazardous accidents.

Stricter Rules Against Illegal Vehicle Modifications

In addition to the upcoming launch of the VID device in May 2023, LTA emphasises that it combats the risk of the abovementioned road risks by regularly carrying out enforcement operations to detect and discourage illegal modifications.

Vehicles found to be non-compliant with regulations are required to undergo necessary rectifications and subsequent reinspection. 

They will be prohibited from renewing their road tax and using their vehicles on Singapore’s roads until they meet the required standards.

Starting from July 2021, the LTA has also increased the composition sum for first-time offenders who engage in illegal exhaust modifications which pose significant safety risks, from $500 to $1,000.

Individuals involved in more severe cases can be taken to court, even if it is their first offense. 

This means they may face a maximum fine of $5,000, imprisonment for up to three months, or both. 

For second or subsequent convictions, the penalties are doubled to a maximum fine of $10,000 and a jail term of six months, or both.