Researchers are creating a comms system to help prevent terrorist attacks

30 Aug 2018

The TSSG TranSec project team. From left: Nithin Padmaprabhu, software researcher; Martin Tolan, tech lead and TransSec work package leader; Ruisong Han, postdoc researcher and TransSec work package leader; Frances Cleary, research unit manager; and Ryan McCloskey, software researcher. Image: TSSG

Irish tech experts at TSSG are working with their European counterparts to develop a new truck navigation system to prevent vehicles being used in a terrorist attack.

The Telecommunications, Software and Systems Group (TSSG) at Waterford Institute of Technology has been awarded a major role in a €3m secure truck navigation project called TransSec.

A carefully curated selection of expert teams across Europe are working together with a leading truck manufacturer to develop a new kind of truck, fitted with impregnable road transport and dangerous-goods protection systems.

The project includes precise vehicle positioning and navigation for on-road use, including lane positioning, as well as off-road-use safeguards. It also incorporates vehicle movement monitoring for dangerous goods, with a critical area alarm and integration into the European-wide emergency eCall system.

TSSG brings its expertise in vehicle-to-everything (V2X) communication and risk communication expertise to the consortium. The group has been involved in several projects and initiatives involving cooperative communications.

V2X explained

V2X communication is the umbrella term for the communication system of a vehicle, whereby data from sensors and other sources travels via high-bandwidth, low-latency connectivity.

There are several components in V2X communication, including vehicle to pedestrian (V2P), vehicle to network (V2N), vehicle to vehicle (V2V) and vehicle to infrastructure (V2I).

A recent report on V2X from Huawei’s German research centre said: “While this example might seem far into the future, most of the technology needed to enable it (high-precision maps, real-time traffic information, sensors inside the vehicle such as radars, cameras, ultrasonic etc) are either already available or will be in the near future. The most prominent missing component is a high-reliability, low-latency communications system.”

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 the road. The plans feature protected, autonomous emergency manoeuvring for crash prevention.

The project is financed under the Horizon 2020 Galileo-GSA-2017 programme.

TSSG is working with European partners including Daimler AG, Universitaet Stuttgart in Germany, TeleConsult Austria and Spain’s Fundacion Centro de Tecnologias de Interaccion Visual y Comunicaciones Vicomtech.

A major project

Acting director of research at TSSG, Dr Sasitharan Balasubramaniam, said: “We are growing our smart mobility/ intelligent transport group in-house, and TransSec is a major project for us. It will allow us to build on our current expertise.”

Frances Cleary, TSSG research unit manager, said that the TransSec project addresses a new danger in European countries: the increasing number of terrorist attacks. She added: “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,” she explained.

The TSSG project team will help to produce an early prototype that can be implemented by truck companies during manufacture or retrofitted to existing fleets. The system will be tested and piloted after 12, 24 and 36 months of the project lifetime.

“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,” Cleary said.

Ellen Tannam was a journalist with Silicon Republic, covering all manner of business and tech subjects