NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Officials with the Metro Public Health Department are testing a new piece of technology that would conduct emissions testing without having to wait in line at a testing center.
The department has discussed the use of "remote-sensing" technology for at least a couple of years.
Last year, Knoxville-based company Hager Environmental & Atmospheric Technologies (H.E.A.T.) was awarded a bid to test out its Emissions Detection And Reporting system, commonly known as EDAR, throughout Davidson County.
This technology is a device that can remotely capture and measure gases of vehicles with a laser when slowed or stopped on the road. It can be planted on the side of the road and extended out like a light pole.
"While drivers are sitting in traffic, that testing system is running a laser across the car's exhaust and it's reading the exhaust levels," said Brian Todd of the Metro Public Health Department. "As much as 25 percent of cars will now be tested based on this remote sensing once that's in place."
Since EDAR can detect speed and read license plates, drivers who pass the test will get a certificate in the mail, much like what is given at the testing centers, to provide to the county clerk.
It will include the same $9 bill, but drivers can pay for it when renewing their tags.
Drivers who do not pass will not receive a certificate in the mail.
"The bottom line is it's a more efficient and quicker way for somebody to have their vehicle tested," added Todd.
"That'd be great because the biggest thing is the inconvenience," said one Davidson County driver.
H.E.A.T. was recently in Nashville to test the system in 38 different locations where there is more traffic, including Charlotte Pike and Nolensville Pike. President Yolla Hager told NewsChannel 5 that the focus is not necessarily on the interstates since there are more drivers registered outside of Davidson County. The company said it is far more advanced than the normal remote-sensing system.
A feature of EDAR is the ability to detect vehicles individually.
"You can actually see when a vehicle passes the test and one vehicle that clearly didn't pass. What happened then was, there's the technology that blocks additional testing for a period of time to let the air clear out from that one vehicle. In other words, if you're behind some big polluter and you're behind them you're not going to fail because they failed."
H.E.A.T. will be back in Nashville in the summer to conduct further testing. There is no exact date on when EDAR will fully take effect since the Board of Health, Metro council and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) would still have to approve.
If and once implemented, EDAR would be the second form of emissions testing in Nashville. Opus Inspection currently has a contract with the city to run emissions testing centers until 2022.
Governor Bill Haslam has signed into a law a bill that would eliminate emissions testing in six participating counties in Davidson County.
Metro council members passed a resolution to continue the tests for now to wait on further studies and alternatives approval from the EPA.
No word on how many devices will be installed if approved.