We propose a novel method to precisely detect car license plates by locating main characters, which are printed with large font size. The regions of the main characters are directly detected without detecting the plate region boundaries, so that license regions can be detected more precisely than by other existing methods. To generate a binary image, multiple thresholds are applied, and segmented regions are selected from multiple binarized images by a criterion of size and compactness. We do not employ any character matching methods, so that many candidates for main character groups are detected; thus, we use a neural network to reject non-main character groups from the candidates. The relation of the character regions and the intensity statistics are used as the input to the neural network for classification. The detection performance has been investigated on real images captured under various illumination conditions for 1000 vehicles. 980 plates were correctly detected, and almost all non-detected plates were so stained that their characters could not be isolated for character recognition. In addition, the processing time is fast enough for a commercial automatic license plate recognition system. Therefore, the proposed method can be used for recognition systems with high performance and fast processing.

© 2010 Optical Society of Korea

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