Remote Sensing Programs

Opus Inspection is far and away the most qualified and experienced provider of remote sensing services in the world.  We operate six (6) on-going remote sensing programs in 6 different U.S. states efficiently collecting well over 13 million certified on-road vehicle emissions measurements annually.

US RSD map

Detailed information on the six U.S. remote sensing programs which Opus Inspection designed, implemented and currently operates are provided below. We also describe an additional 1-year Tennessee Clean Screen remote sensing pilot which provided noteworthy survey results on the popularity and effectiveness of Clean Screening is also described.

Opus Inspection has over 25 years of direct remote sensing experience:

  • We have performed over 100 formal studies using our Remote Sensing Devices (RSD) and prepared over 300 analytical reports on our study and program activity.
  • We conducted the pilot studies that demonstrated the efficacy of remote sensing applications and played a vital role supporting the release of each of the three USEPA Remote Sensing Guidance Documents:
      1. User Guide and Description For Interim Remote Sensing Program Credit Utility on Remote Sensing (EPA/AA/AMD/EIG/96-01) – September 1996
      2. Program User Guide for Interim Vehicle Clean Screening Credit Utility (EPA420-P-98-007) – May 1998
      3. Guidance on Use of Remote Sensing for Evaluation of I/M Program Performance (EPA420-B-02-001) – July 2002
  • As vehicle programs were replacing idle and static emissions tests with loaded and dynamic dynamometer tests to enhance inspection effectiveness, Opus Inspection launched and operated supplemental high-emitter identification programs in Arizona, California, and Texas. Today, Opus operates high emitter programs in Texas, Virginia and Massachusetts and an evaporative emission screening program in Indiana.
  • With advances in vehicle technology, fuel quality and inspection methods (e.g. OBD), light duty vehicles are now 99% cleaner that when emissions inspections were first introduced. As a result, the convenient screening of the low-emitters on-road (i.e. clean screen) has grown in popularity.  Opus Inspection has successfully launched five clean screen programs throughout the United States and currently operates three in the states of Colorado, Ohio, and Virginia. These programs identify clean vehicles as motorists go about their normal daily activities and notify those motorists that they need not report to an inspection center.

Here is a description of each of our U.S. remote sensing programs:
Colorado’s RapidScreen™ (Clean Screen) Program in the Denver Metropolitan and Northern Front Range Areas

Colorado began its clean screen program in August of 2004 sending notifications to motorists in the Denver Metropolitan Area with emissions test dates in October of that year.  Over time the number of customers qualifying for clean screen has grown to 1/3 of the eligible fleet.

The Colorado RapidScreenTM program collects over 6.5 million valid records per year, and has also provided the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment (CDPHE) with valuable vehicle fleet emissions characterization information, including emissions information about emissions from out-of-area commuter vehicles.

The Northern Front Range Area joined the clean screen program in 2010.  Opus Inspection now operates 19 remote sensing devices supported by 9 remote sensing vans within the two inspection areas; making Colorado RapidScreenTM the largest clean screen program in the world.

Ohio’s RapidScreen™ (Clean Screen) Program

In 2012, as part of its new ChoicePlus decentralized emissions testing network, the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency contracted with Opus Inspection to implement a Clean Screen program to complement the Ohio E-Check emissions testing program.

The Ohio Clean Screen program offers tremendous convenience by exempting 7% of the lowest emitting vehicles from a testing station visit through a variety of techniques, including remote sensing.

Currently, Opus Inspection operates 2 remote sensing units within the Ohio E-Check Program area, collecting nearly 0.5 million valid vehicle emissions measurements annually.

Virginia’s On-Road Total Screen Remote Sensing Program

The Virginia on-road remote sensing program started in 2004 as an Emissions Inspection Program evaluation effort and a small low- and high-emitter identification program.  The program collected roughly 1 million on-road exhaust measurements of the Northern Virginia motor vehicle fleet during the 1-year program evaluation phase and 300,000 measurements annually thereafter during the screening phase.

In March 2012, Virginia House Bill 805 “Motor vehicles; authorized on-road clean screen program and emissions inspection” authorized a substantial expansion of its remote sensing program to include up to 30% clean screen, more aggressive high-emitter identification, and regular program evaluation:

  • making full use of the remote sensing data (i.e. Total Screen),
  • reflecting Virginia’s confidence in Opus remote sensing technology and services, and
  • demonstrating its commitment to driving convenience and value into their emissions inspection program.

Today, the Virginia total screen program is a turnkey service to the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (VDEQ) that collects nearly 6 million vehicle emissions measurements annually with 15 remote sensors deployed from 5 remote sensing vans.  Data is stored, managed and then processed in a custom data management system (DMS) which provides for the regular issuance of official VDEQ RapidPass Notices to low-emitters and Notices of Violation to high-emitters.

Vehicles registering their two highest readings beyond the emissions high emitter screening threshold within a 120-day period are required to receive a re-inspection at an emissions inspection station.

In contrast, vehicles that register below the low emitter screening threshold qualify for a Clean Screen notice.  Motorists receiving Clean Screen notices may conveniently redeem their Clean Screen option on-line and are excused from their upcoming station-based inspection.

Texas On-Road High Emitter Remote Sensing Program

In the mid-1990s, Texas was facing expansion of their emissions inspection program due to worsening air quality and a reclassification by the USEPA.  At the time, a decentralized two-speed idle program was active in Dallas and Tarrant counties (Dallas-Fort Worth area), Harris County (Houston area), and El Paso County (El Paso area). Instead of expanding the program into outlying counties in each metropolitan area, the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) elected to use remote sensing to identify high-emitters among the commuting fleet in these areas. These “commuter polluters” would be notified and subject to a traditional station based emissions test. Since that time the program has expanded into the seventeen emissions inspection program counties.  While under a severe non-attainment designation the remote sensing high-emitter program collected more the 3 million vehicle emissions measurements and issued more 5,000 notices annually.  Today, the program continues at a much lower scale reflecting the region’s improved air quality.  The high-emitter program continues with strict coverage requirements in each of the 17 counties and requires high emitters to be notified of the need for an off-cycle inspection within 30 days.

Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority Heavy Duty High Emitter Program

Under a 2001 court mandate, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) modernized its fleet of roughly 1,000 buses (many of those 2-stroke diesels), with new, cleaner technology vehicles. Also at this time, MBTA implemented a depot-based bus inspection and maintenance program to ensure that their updated bus fleet remained clean and well maintained.

In 2004, Opus Inspection was selected to conduct a remote sensing study that verified the effectiveness of MBTA’s bus clean-up and design the most cost-effective inspection and maintenance program for this fleet.

In 2006, Opus Inspection was selected to operate the enhanced bus inspection and maintenance program which applies remote sensing to ensure buses are running at peak efficiency and within emissions standards. The MBTA’s remote sensing-based bus inspection and maintenance program now operates at all eight urban bus depots and reports high-emitting buses to depot maintenance staff.

The program operates fixed remote sensors at the two largest garages and operates mobile remote sensors at the remaining garages.  Numerous measurements are collected on each bus an average of three times per year.  Patterns in the failing remote sensing measurements of high emitting buses allow MBTA mechanics to quickly and efficiently determine and implement the necessary repairs.

As a result, the MBTA now maintains one of the cleanest and most modern fleets in the country and periodically posts a bus emissions report card on its website.

 

Indiana High Evaporative Emitter Pre-Screening Pilot Program

In the past, the Indiana I/M program evaporative emissions testing had been limited to inspecting vehicles with suspected evaporative leaks using low tech, handheld, battery operated detectors. This leak check was voluntary and limited to vehicles failing the IM93 transient dynamometer test for hydrocarbons, mostly 1995 and older models.

To improve detection of evaporative emissions, a Remote Sensing (RS) pilot was started in June 2015 with the goal of expanding evaporative screening and testing to all inspected vehicles.  Under this expanded program, Remote Sensing Devices are being used to pre-screen the evaporative emissions of vehicles entering stations in order to alert lane inspectors of suspect high evaporative emitters.

The Opus RSD evaporative emissions pre-screening has nearly quadrupled the percentage of positive leak checks (38%) as compared to the IM93 HC fail screen (10%).  Additionally, the RSD program uncovered the fact that and the failed leak check rate on RSD-flagged vehicles was as high for newer OBD vehicles as for the older models tested with IM93.

Opus Inspection has used these preliminary results to substantially improve evaporative emissions screening algorithms and expects to further improve Indiana’s evaporative emissions screening performance as the program continues to expand.

Tennessee’s RapidScreen™ (Clean Screen) Pilot Program

In June, 2011, a 1-year clean screen pilot program was implemented in Williamson County as part of the Tennessee vehicle emissions inspection program.  During the pilot, thousands of Williamson County motorists passed a remote sensing device that analyzed the exhaust from their vehicle as they accelerated to enter freeway traffic.

Thousands of drivers of low-emitting vehicles in Williamson County received a Clean Screen notice offering an exemption from their regularly scheduled emissions test.

A survey of program participants revealed overwhelming support for the Clean Screen program and the convenience that it provides. 98% of survey respondents said they wanted to see the Clean Screen program continue.