Rethinking and Designing a High-Performing Automatic License Plate Recognition Approach

Yi Wang, Zhen Peng Bian, Yunhao Zhou, Lap Pui Chau

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)


In this paper, we propose a real-time and accurate automatic license plate recognition (ALPR) approach. Our study illustrates the outstanding design of ALPR with four insights: (1) the resampling-based cascaded framework is beneficial to both speed and accuracy; (2) the highly efficient license plate recognition should abundant additional character segmentation and recurrent neural network (RNN), but adopt a plain convolutional neural network (CNN); (3) in the case of CNN, taking advantage of vertex information on license plates improves the recognition performance; and (4) the weight-sharing character classifier addresses the lack of training images in small-scale datasets. Based on these insights, we propose a novel ALPR approach, termed VSNet. Specifically, VSNet includes two CNNs, i.e., VertexNet for license plate detection and SCR-Net for license plate recognition, integrated in a resampling-based cascaded manner. In VertexNet, we propose an efficient integration block to extract the spatial features of license plates. With vertex supervisory information, we propose a vertex-estimation branch in VertexNet such that license plates can be rectified as the input images of SCR-Net. In SCR-Net, we introduce a horizontal encoding technique for left-to-right feature extraction and propose a weight-sharing classifier for character recognition. Experimental results show that the proposed VSNet outperforms state-of-the-art methods by more than 50% relative improvement on error rate, achieving >99% recognition accuracy on CCPD and AOLP datasets with 149 FPS inference speed. Moreover, our method illustrates an outstanding generalization capability when evaluated on the unseen PKUData and CLPD datasets.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8868 - 8880
Number of pages13
JournalIEEE Transactions on Intelligent Transportation Systems
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Convolutional neural network
  • character recognition
  • image classification
  • license plate detection
  • real-time system

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Automotive Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Computer Science Applications


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