An update on the radio-frequency identification (RFID) system that will be implemented for paying road toll fares. Ahead of the system’s launch in January next year, Touch ‘n Go has kicked off the public pilot programme, as scheduled.

Starting from today, the first registrants for the pilot programme will be getting their RFID tags installed. Participating users will need to set up an appointment to have the RFID sticker installed on the car’s windscreen or headlamp at an authorised centre, a process that should take around 15 minutes.

The trial, open to Klang Valley highway users who drive Class 1 vehicles (passenger cars, vans, 4x4s and pick-up trucks) with private registration, will see an enlargement of operation scope for the system, and the expanded field evaluation period – which runs until December 31 – will allow fine-tuning aspects and troubleshooting to be carried out. At present, RFID lanes are present on 16 highways.

Pilot programme users won’t need to pay for the RFID fee during the trial period, but will still be required to pay toll charges. Payment – and reloads – will be made via the Touch ‘n Go eWallet app on iOS and Android.

The RFID system is a new electronic toll payment system that uses a RFID tag, in the form of a sticker. Embedded with a radio frequency chip, it’s unique to each vehicle. As the vehicle passes through a toll gate, an overhead scanner reads the radio-frequency from the RFID sticker and charges the toll fare. The toll fare will be deducted from the Touch ‘n Go eWallet which is linked to the sticker.

Radio-frequency identification works in a manner similar to barcode scanning. The tag is ‘read’ by an overhead scanner through electromagnetic waves, with a frequency of between 850 and 950 MHz, depending on the operating system. Scanning range can reach ranges of over 27 metres, with a 10 millisecond response time, though in the case of a passive system (like the one used here) the range should be set much shorter.

Operation-wise, the RFID tag will be superior in both amplitude and consistency compared to the current SmartTag system, and there will be no batteries or lost/misplaced TnG cards to contend with. We’ll be installing the RFID system and trialling it, and will report on it very soon.