back to article Street View plays spot the army numberplate

We reckon Google has done a pretty good job with its Street View blurring tech, protecting innocent UK numberplates from public scrutiny, and it's fair to say that the army only has itself to blame for the military's insistence on using a different format to the civvy world: Unblurred army vehicle numberplate at entrance to …


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  1. Winkypop Silver badge

    Piece of hardware?

    Piece of inert hardware more like it.

    The only damage that thing would do was squash you if it fell on you.

  2. AbnormalChunks

    Anti Opel Artillery

    That's a Bloodhound Surface to Air Missile so not much good for blowing up cars sadly. Perhaps the MOD can request the number plate to be blurred - once somebody there can figure out who to ask and then get the 15 forms filled in!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Paris Hilton

      15 forms?

      And those fifteen forms will be to requisition the use of a new form to authorise the use of using existing forms for the new purpose for which they were originally not intended for...

      Paris because... well, is it not obvious?

  3. Code Monkey

    For once not much of a privacy breach

    IMO it's not much of a privacy breach.

    Even the clownish "terrorists" we have these days should have the training to recognise a military numberplate before trying to set fire to their underpants or whatever.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Black Helicopters

      Sod the plate...

      You'd have thought a Landy, with a coat of camo paint thrown at it, a sodding great aerial and a driver in camo fatigues and beret would be a good 'nuff clue...

    2. Lionel Baden


      isnt the vehicle itself a giveaway ???

      you know the green thing covered on camo green full of soldiers ???

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Is it the format

    Is it the format or the colours. I have seen signs written in black on white or yellow blurred. Could it be that the tech does not recognize white on black as a numberplate? Anybody seen any vintage cars with white on black plates to support this?

    Hey, there's a thought: Does ANPR work on white on black plates? We already know that the front facing average speed cameras don't get motorbikes because they have no front plate. Wouldn't it be fun if it turned out that vintage cars are immune too?

    1. Nigel Whitfield.

      Old plates

      The plates on my old DS are black with silver lettering; I've never had a ticket, despite the odd flash, but perhaps I've just been lucky and they don't have film in the cameras round these parts.

    2. G3

      Re: Is it the format

      It does appear to be the colour... My father in law owns an old VW Camper, and the number plate is clearly visible although they have blurred the sticker showing the place of purchase in the back window!

    3. Ash!


      ANPR does indeed work with white-on-black plates - or any other colour combination with adeqaute contrast. However, the lack of refectivity (matt back painted or anodised backing vs. retroflective Scotchlite) would probably thwart the IR illuminators at night...

    4. PDC

      Not just mil format on mil vehicles

      It's not just missing military formatted silver on black. You can spot a nice shiney new military police landrover outside the main guard room of RAF Cranwell, with standard plates not blurred.

      1. Steve Evans


        Maybe it's the fact the letters are split onto two rows that confuses it.

    5. Marvin the Martian

      This would mean...

      This would mean that all tourist plates don't get blurred, because they don't have standard UK lettering/colouring? Even if their homecountries have G StreetView with blurring and all?

  5. Jolyon Ralph

    Thunderbird SAM

    That'll be a Thunderbird SAM (the Army's surface to air missile, similar to the Bloodhound used by the RAF) 1950s/60s vintage

  6. Jolyon Ralph

    Inert hardware as gate guardians

    Yes, this is *probably* inert.

    I say probably, because there is an amusing story about a World War 2 Grand Slam bomb (the original bunker-buster, a 22,000lb bomb) used as a gate guardian at RAF Scampton.:

    "In the late 1950s, as a preliminary to road widening work by Lincolnshire County Council, the gate guardian – then a Grand Slam bomb – had to be moved. Efforts to lift it with a small crane proved futile, as it was much heavier than expected. Upon closer examination, it was found to be still filled with live explosives. It was carefully removed on an RAF low loader and detonated on a test range. It is unclear how a live bomb managed to be put on display, but it seems that it was in place for well over a decade." [stolen from]

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Black number plates...

    Also can be found on many pre '73 UK vehicles. Just try tootling around pretty much any housing estate in the country and you're guaranteed to come across a non-blurred one before too long, especially as the Google cam is high enough to see over many fences and hedges.

    On a related note, tried taking a tour around any of the UK's nuclear sites? Google have pulled off some real works of art at some of the entrance gates to those.

  8. Alan Edwards

    Blurring doesn't work...

    ... with vintage-style white-on-black plates.,+Wiltshire,+United+Kingdom&sll=53.800651,-4.064941&sspn=12.218001,28.256836&ie=UTF8&cd=1&geocode=FZSfEAMdI5nl_w&split=0&hq=&hnear=Marlborough,+Wiltshire,+United+Kingdom&ll=51.417971,-1.714339&spn=0.012579,0.027595&z=15&layer=c&cbll=51.418114,-1.714164&panoid=n3Id6aqz-s36r3tFSfL6Og&cbp=12,75.8,,0,5

    That's my grandad's old place, before he died.

    Blurring doesn't always work on modern plates, either.,+Wiltshire,+United+Kingdom&sll=53.800651,-4.064941&sspn=12.218001,28.256836&ie=UTF8&cd=1&geocode=FZSfEAMdI5nl_w&split=0&hq=&hnear=Marlborough,+Wiltshire,+United+Kingdom&layer=c&cbll=51.417288,-1.717871&panoid=AQJ1t6j3NyAsthea-YL0vA&cbp=11,314.83,,1,29.16&ll=51.417275,-1.717858&spn=0.005701,0.027595&z=15


  9. Stephen 2

    @AC 12:06 GMT

    Wouldn't make much difference, my vintage beetle wont even hit 70 MPH :P

  10. Andus McCoatover

    Not useless hardware at all!

    That rocket (laid on the road, fully loaded) would surely stop a runaway Toyota better than a 'stinger'.

    Christ, you could take someone's bloody eye out with that pointy thing! (Elf and Safty, natch).

    -Hey - can we somehow persuade Lester to get his playmobil set from under his kid's bed, so we can have an "Elf and Safty" icon? Otherwise, I'll make do with the 'troll' jobbie.

  11. Tom_

    Such conspicuous plates

    Once those are blurred out nobody will ever be able to identify an army issue landrover by it's paint job or it's uniform-wearing driver and passengers.

  12. Lionel Baden

    what about classic plates

    classic car plates are black and white as well

    how does google manage them as well

  13. z0mb13e

    Rectangular B&W plates

    Type your comment here — plain text only, no HTML

    I have an old VW Beetle and the rear plate is not blurred out by street view.

    The rear plate is square-ish two lines, pressed metal, silver on black but appears white on black.

  14. rpjs

    Possibly just the military

    The old Routemasters still running on a couple of "heritage" routes in London have white on black numberplates. After much street viewing along Cannon Street, Ludgate Hill and Fleet Street, I found this fine example on the Strand that does show its numberplate blurred:

  15. pioneer
    Thumb Up

    Sweet, Win for me

    Thanks reg, emailed them about this last night

  16. SImon Hobson Silver badge

    Blurring doesn't work on black/yellow plates either !

    They've been past the office, and the rear plate on my Land Rover is there in full detail - but they have blurred the motor club stickers in the window !

  17. Anonymous Coward

    It also doesn't hangle classic car plates..

    For much the same reason - their algorithm looks for black text on a white or yellow background and not white or silver letters on a black background.

    As I discovered recently when our Morris Minor reg number was clearly visible in Street View. I complained and they blurred it - but only from the explicit spot that I'd complained about. Move a metre or two along the Street View track and the numberplate is once again clearly visible..

  18. The First Dave


    If you are talking about the use of a square plate, then that is used by motorbikes amongst others.

    If you are talking about the black/white lettering then that is used on older vehicles as standard.

    If you are talking about the 2 letters/2 digits/ 2letters format then that is a very close match to certain Northern Ireland plates.

    So, what's non-standard about Army plates? The only thing I am aware of is trailers legitimately having their own reg plate, unlike civvy trailers that have to wear the plate of the towing vehicle.

  19. Stratman


    Has google now "taken a photograph which could be of use to a terrorist"?

    Snappers taking pictures of the Met's finest clubbing protestors have been carted away for it, why not google?

  20. Rob

    The software just ain't that good

    I spotted my VW Bora on street view and the rear number plate was visible, I think the software is just not that intelligent and occassionally borks.

    Nothing to see (blurred or otherwise) move along now....

  21. KTM Gordo


    It seems as though it might be an issue with square registration plates. Or perhaps it's Land Rovers: My Land Rover's plate hasn't been blurred in the (rather nice, and better than the estate agent's effort) photo of my house.

    Not that I'm unduly bothered - it's already on public display wherever I park it.

  22. Glen Turner 666

    Protogrpahy allowed at all?

    I don't know about the UK, but in Australia photographing "prohibited areas" is illegal. Regardless if the registration plate is readable or not.

  23. Phil Parker
    Thumb Up

    Blurry old plates

    The aluminium on black plate on VW camper is blurred out OK so the algorithm must work a bit.

  24. Anonymous Coward

    So what?

    Never mind the number plate. Google did not get in. I did. So there!

    Hand grenade? Here Mr Google hold this. Now pull out the clip and throw the clip away. Open your hand slowly and let the clasp open. Now count to ten whilst I walk away. What do you mean you can't hear me any more?

  25. mark 63 Silver badge

    i'm confused

    why are so many people saying

    "i can tell its military even with the blurred plate . har har"

    Thats not why its blurred people! (if it were blurred)

  26. Stone Fox

    if that's an artillery barracks

    what's with the paratrooper stood by the gate, isn't he a bit of a long way from home? (Colchester last time I looked)

  27. Wanda Lust

    Quick response

    24 hours later and it's blurred.

    The Googla-Loompas must have Lester on their RSS feed and they've fixed this one.

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