Sure, they'll say it's for safety, driving on excessively worn tires is dangerous, but something more sinister is afoot. German firm ProContour has developed a tire tread depth measuring system that beams a laser at the wheels of passing vehicles and takes 430 million measurements per second to develop a three-dimensional profile of that tire. Tread depth and pattern are then calculated, and if there's less than .06 inches of tread or the pattern is clearly inappropriate (studded snows in the summer, for example), a citation is automagically issued. While we're admittedly being cynical, the safety aspect of what ProContour has developed is pretty impressive. The ability to scan the tires of vehicles as they pass at speeds in excess of 50 km/h takes some doing, and we've seen horrid things posing as tires, so kudos, but a fine strikes us as a bit hardcore. Of course, financial pain might have a Pavlovian effect and cause those bitten by the Tire Ticket Fairy to keep a closer eye on their tires. It'd be a joke to assume that everyone already inspects their tires for condition and inflation on a regular basis, but that's how it should be, but then, there'd be no business model for ProContour. None of ProContour's big-brother rigs have been installed yet, but the company is shopping it around to local governments eager for yet another way to stick it to the citizens. The safety idea is laudable, but we're skeptical how a challenge to the seemingly infallible computer might go, should the system go all HAL9000 on us. Thanks for the tip, Rod! Video after the jump (in German).

[Source: thenewspaper.com]