Multinational vehicle license plate detection in complex backgrounds

Muhammad Rizwan Asif, Chun Qi, Sajid Hussain, Muhammad Sadiq Fareed, Subhan Khan

Research output: Contribution to journal/Conference contribution in journal/Contribution to newspaperJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Many methods for multinational License Plate Detection (LPD) have been proposed in recent times but most of them are not sophisticated enough to handle complex backgrounds. Moreover, their ability to handle various environmental and illumination conditions has been limited and still needs improvement. In this paper, we propose a novel technique to detect license plates of vehicles regardless of their color, size, and content. As the rear vehicle lights are an essential part of any vehicle, we reduce the image processing area to eliminate the complex background by detecting the rear-lights as the license plates are in a certain range of these lights. Heuristic Energy Map (HEM) of the vertical edge information in the Region of Interest (ROI) is calculated and area with the dense edges is selected using a unique histogram approach which is considered to be the license plate. The proposed algorithm is tested on 855 images from various countries including China, Pakistan, Serbia, Italy and various states of America. Experimental results show that the proposed method is able to detect license plates 90.4% of times despite of complex backgrounds in 0.25 s on average that can achieve real time performance.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Visual Communication and Image Representation
Pages (from-to)176-186
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 23 Mar 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Adaptive thresholding
  • Color space conversion
  • Intelligent transport systems
  • License plate detection
  • Traffic surveillance
  • Vehicle identification


Dive into the research topics of 'Multinational vehicle license plate detection in complex backgrounds'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this