Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Alterable License Plate

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I'm sure we've all seen movies or tv shows where a guy commits a crime of some sort in his easily-recognizable BMW or GM product, and a nearby cop who cannot possibly stop the crime, but who has great eyesight, sees the getaway vehicle and radios in to dispatch the appropriate license plate number.

Our criminal progagonist, wise to the ways of the constabulary, presses a button or some other doodad that causes the plate to rotate, lift, drop, or slide into the body of the car, to be replaced by another license plate of similar style.

Sometimes he drives past cops with total disregard; perhaps more suspensfully, the criminal is occasionally stopped by an officer who recognizes the body style/color/make/model/driver as one wanted for a particularly heinous infraction, but because the plates don't match, lets our title-character ruffian go.

The problem, of course, is that our character can only hold so many plates in the body of his car before he has to dispose of them (running the risk of being caught with evidence in your hand/trunk), or before he simply runs out of new license plates. These are both major problems.

To solve this problem, I propose the inifinately-alterable license plate.

A high-definition printer sits to the side of and a little behind the license plate holder, two printers for states/nations with two plates.

When fleeing the crime, the printer prints (on a roll of high-tensile plastic) a new license plate number and a new state's plate template on this plastic. A roller on the opposite side of the printer pulls the old "plate" out of the holder and through the deck lid, and the new one slides sideways into place, like a printing press or film projector.

Behind the newly-printed plastic are thousands of small actuators and short rods that push out into the back of the new plastic behind the letters, to give them a bas-relief flavor (since most states have raised lettering on their plates). Presuming this is done right, these will then line up with the letters on the plate.

It's all covered with your standard perspex license-plate cover, to add to the illusion (and difficulty in detection).

Old plastic sheets with plate numbers would be cut off and fed into a small incinerator that's then filtered into the exhaust system.

shapu, Oct 14 2005


       If you could come up with the technology to do that, I think you could make money more reliably selling it for legitimate purposes, than robbing banks.
DrCurry, Oct 14 2005

       I'm pretty sure the tech is all there. I guess the biggest porblem would just be the software to run it.
shapu, Oct 14 2005

wagster, Oct 14 2005

       Aren't most license plates metal? They probably wouldn't incinerate as easily. And who would blow through so many license plates commiting crimes while on the run from the police, who are trying to arrest him for the multitude of previous crimes? Somewhat impractical. Great.
jellydoughnut, Oct 14 2005

       Most plates in the UK aren't in relief, perhaps the most difficult part of your idea to implement. Come over here to commit your heinous crimes.
rodti, Oct 14 2005

       Vanity plates in Missouri aren't relief, but all other plates are. You can instantly tell who's got an extra 20 bucks in their wallet when they buy a car.
shapu, Oct 14 2005

       //Our criminal progagonist, wise to the ways of the constabulary, presses a button or some other doodad that causes the plate to rotate, lift, drop, or slide into the body of the car, to be replaced by another license plate of similar style.// wasn't there something similar on a James Bond car? not another number plate but a weapon of some kind.
po, Oct 15 2005

       I believe the Aston Martin had rotating plates. Unlike mine :)
wagster, Oct 15 2005

       They actually did the rotating licence plate thing as well in Goldfinger.   

       Where in the car would you find space to put a high definition printer?
hidden truths, Oct 15 2005

       You can get electric drop-down plates at any good automotive modification website. These are just swing-arms, basically, that make a hotrod look cleaner and less-cluttered for shows, but able to be legally driven around town.   

       As for the printer, I think today's home photo printers could pretty easily be adapted to being turned on their sides and rested inside the bumper housing or on/in the trunk lid.
shapu, Oct 16 2005

       I was just going to do an entry for an E-ink license plate for changing them after a crime. Much cheaper than an LCD. And completely flexible as far as what you want it to say, what state it's from, etc. Just mash the keyboard and hit enter.
Gn0stik, Mar 16 2006


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