Waterford team working to prevent truck use in global terror attacks

The Nice terror attack.
By Denise O’Donoghue

Irish tech experts have teamed up with their European counterparts to develop a new and secure truck navigation system to prevent large vehicles from being used in a terror attack.

The TransSec project includes leaders in the fields of telecoms and other wireless, high-speed communications protocols at the Telecommunications, Software and Systems Group (TSSG) at Waterford Institute of Technology.

TransSec addresses a new danger in European countries, the increasing number of terror attacks.

“Terror attacks with trucks in Nice and Berlin have shown drastically the damage a heavy truck can cause; how easy it is to misuse a truck for attacks and that the newest safety systems cannot prevent these attacks,” said Frances Cleary, TSSG Research Unit Manager.

“As a consequence of such terrorist-related incidents, road transport safety has to be supplemented by road transport security. The TSSG project team will help to produce an early prototype which can be implemented by truck companies during manufacture or retrofitted to existing fleets.

“We will demonstrate the effectiveness of the system with a truck both on and off the road after 12, 24 and 36 months of the project lifetime.

Testing and pilots on public roads and public areas will provide a higher level of security.

The teams from across Europe are working on the development of a new type of truck that is fitted with impregnable road transport and dangerous goods protection systems.

The system will include precise vehicle positioning and navigation for on road use, including lane positioning, as well as off road use safeguards.

It also includes vehicle movement monitoring for dangerous goods, with a critical area alarm and integration into the European-wide emergency eCall system.

The TransSec Project Team: Nithin Padmaprabhu, Software Researcher; Martin Tolan, Tech Lead & TransSec Work Package Leader; Ruisong Han, Post Doc Researcher & TransSec Work Package Leader; Frances Cleary, TSSG MEPS Research Unit Manager and Ryan McCloskey, Software Researcher.

TransSec will also provide vehicle communication security for critical information exchange as well as on-board, pre-crash environment detection of vulnerable objects, both on and off road.

"Safety systems can prevent almost any kind of accidents but intentional attacks are out of their scope," Ms Cleary said.

"Terrorist attacks using vehicles are very hard to prevent – but there are security measures that truck manufacturers and cities could take.

TransSec will focus on developing security solutions for trucks to avoid their usage as terrorist weapons.

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