A UK security products company has tested a device, which is inspired by a children’s toy and designed to protect crowds from attackers using vehicles as weapons.
Securiscape says that its new SecuriPod system could save hundreds of lives a year by creating a temporary barrier that is capable of stopping a truck in five metres.
Consisting of a series of 620kg, seven-foot-tall metal pods standing 1.2m apart and linked together at the top and at the base by steel cables, the SecuriPod system allows pedestrians free access into events which are being held in streets or public spaces.
However, if a truck or other vehicle were to attempt to gain forced entry to where people are gathered, it would be almost surrounded by SecuriPods and ensnared in the cables in seconds, bringing it to a halt.
The SecuriPods were inspired by the child’s toy Weebles, which famously wobble but don’t fall down. This concept is integral to their operation, because when the pods are pushed over by the vehicle, the cable at the base lifts into the air and gets entangled in the vehicle’s wheels.
The product, which can be rented for events and installed in a matter of minutes, was developed in the wake of attacks in Nice, Berlin and London, where attackers used lorries and vans to kill by deliberately driving them into crowds of pedestrians.
Securiscape, which is based in Ashbourne, Derbyshire, has invested £40,000 in developing its SecuriPods, which were tested at at Mira’s test facility in Leicestershire last month, using an 18-tonne lorry travelling at 20mph.
When the truck hit a pod it propelled it forward, causing the neighbouring pods to be dragged along with it. The pods clustered around both sides of the vehicle while the cables wrapped themselves around the cab and the front wheels like the fibres of a spider’s web.
This stopped the truck within a distance of just five metres, while the cables also prevented the doors of the cab from being opened easily. Although the engine of the truck was still running, once staff from Mira did force their way inside, they could not move the truck forward or backwards.
Mark Stone, managing director of Securiscape, said: “Our SecuriPod test was a complete success and went as well as we could have hoped. Not only did the truck come to a complete halt very quickly, it was totally immobilised and, if there had been a driver inside, they would have been trapped.
“We have been producing security equipment for five years and have a range of devices used to protect buildings such as sports stadia, embassies and shopping centres from hostile vehicle-borne attacks.
“We started to develop the SecuriPods following the incident last year in Nice and it is perfect for public events in locations which would be vulnerable to an attack. It’s temporary and surface-mounted, so there is no disruption or cost incurred through excavating the street surface in order to install footings.”
Stone revealed that the concept of using steel cables is already employed successfully in its other products, which include manual rise and fall kerbs and its range of security planters, where cables are used in conjunction with a metal frame to provide an immovable object capable of stopping a truck travelling at 40mph – achieving the security industry-recognised PAS68: 2010 standard.
Mr Stone said: “Although the pods are 65 per cent lighter than concrete barriers, they are heavy enough to make it impossible for a person to push them over. On impact with a vehicle, they will tip over slightly, which causes the cables at the base to lift up. This is what enables them to catch around the wheels in order to stop them from turning.
“At other times, the cables are flat to the ground and can be covered in cable safety ramps, enabling people to walk over them.
“The SecuriPods themselves are non-threatening and can be supplied in different colours and or covered in branding so that they perform as decorative gateways to an event, quite apart from their life-saving capability.”
Securiscape first began developing its planter technology 12 years ago and has installed planters at notable sites across the UK, including a number of London landmarks, namely One Hyde Park, the Royal Courts of Justice and the Broadgate estate in the City.
Its security planters have been used to enhance the exterior of Birmingham New Street Station, while it also supplies decorative bollards and street furniture such as benches and bike racks, all of which can resist vehicle-borne attacks.