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Irish telecoms experts developing security solutions for trucks to avoid their use as terrorist weapons

By 28th August 2018 No Comments

Telecommunications, Software & Systems Group (TSSG) at Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) secure major role in €3 million secure truck navigation project – TransSec

Irish tech experts have teamed up with their European counterparts, industry and business to develop a new and secure truck navigation system which prevents such large vehicles from ever 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.

The carefully-selected, expert teams from across Europe are working together with a leading global truck manufacturer 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.

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.

TransSec will also feature protected, autonomous emergency manoeuvring for crash prevention on and off road, TSSG Research Unit Manager, Frances Cleary, explained.  Having companies, – among them a truck manufacturer, as well as SMEs, research institutes and a university – involved in the consortium allows everyone to play to their strengths and deliver practical, pragmatic, value for money outcomes, she stressed.

TSSG brings its telecommunications expertise, specifically V2X Communication and Risk communication expertise, to the consortium. TSSG has been involved in several projects and initiatives involving cooperative communications, she added.

The project is financed under the Horizon 2020 Galileo-GSA-2017, EU-funded project which sees TSSG work with several European partners which include vehicle manufacturer, Daimler AG, Universitaet Stuttgart in Germany; TeleConsult Austria GmbH and Spain’s Fundacion Centro de Tecnologais de Interaccion Visual y ComunicacionesVicomtech.

TSSG’s role is significant and the project will have very practical social and economic outcomes, according to Acting Director of Research at TSSG, Dr. Sasitharan Balasubramaniam.

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. TransSec’s outputs are likely to be of key interest, not just to truck manufacturers but to fleet companies, rental companies etc. The wider, societal impacts are enormous,” he said.

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

“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,” she revealed.

The mix of organisation types involved in the consortium, from applied research experts to truck manufacturers, specialised SME’s to industrial specialists, provides the perfect team and the path necessary to go from pure R&D right into the market, she believes.

Road transport safety has been the focus of vehicle and truck development for many years. Today, the leading European truck manufacturers have developed innovative safety systems such as adaptive cruise control, automated emergency braking and lane adherence, she explained.

“These systems are on the market and an increasing number of trucks are equipped with these systems. They cover the most frequent accident causes with heavy trucks. We can therefore expect a significant decrease of these accidents on European roads. Safety systems can prevent almost any kind of accidents but intentional attacks are out of their scope.

“Terrorist attacks using vehicles are very hard to prevent – but there are security measures that truck manufactures and cities could take. TransSec will focus on developing security solutions for trucks to avoid their usage as terrorist weapons.”



Media contact: Martin Tolan on 051 845 693 or

Photo Caption: The TransSec Project Team: From left: 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. 

About the TransSec Consortium

The TransSec Consortium was carefully constructed and consists of five partner organisations from four different countries. They will gather all the necessary background and expertise to achieve the objectives of the project. In order to ensure that the value of the outcomes of the project is optimised, this symbiosis of research and business allows the project to be of direct relevance to the public, Cleary said.

Daimler AG will focus on the truck manufacturing, electronic components and integrated vehicle platforms. The SME partners will focus on the specialisation area of GNSS and sensor data fusion.

The expertise of TCA, from Austria, is in the areas of precise positioning and reliable navigation, particularly in the development and combination of navigation, telecommunication, and information technologies, and services for applications in the context of transport and mobility. TCA will also be involved in the development of a data fusion algorithm to enhance the positioning precision.

The industrial partners in TransSec will be supported by research and university bodies that will carry out the specific research and technology transfer activities. They bring their research and technology transfer excellence to the table. University of Stuttgart, Institute of Engineering Geodesy (USTUTT) is a research university specialising in geodesy, cartography and precise positioning and has expertise in the fields of Intelligent Transport Systems, Automotive Technology, Logistics and Planning Systems.

Vicomtech (VICOM) is an applied research institution expert in the development of advanced computer vision and image analysis and semantic analysis of multimedia content solutions for the industry and security sectors. Some of the main research topics include hardware and software techniques for computer vision, semantic interpretation of scenes, automatic object detection, semantics advance algorithms for geolocated data fusion, business intelligence algorithms, GIS etc.

Waterford Institute of Technology’s Telecommunications Software & Systems Group brings its high level of expertise in the telecommunication domain to the group. TSSG has been involved in several projects and initiatives involving cooperative communications V2X. TSSG works in both ITS-G5 and 5G-ITS approaches.

About Frances Cleary:

Frances Cleary is currently Research Unit Manager for the Mobile Ecosystem and Pervasive Sensing (MEPS) Research Unit in TSSG, Waterford Institute Of Technology. Since joining WIT/TSSG Frances has worked in the following main thematic research areas: Pervasiveness in converged telecommunications, user-centric paradigm for seamless mobility in Future internet, federated testbed management and Embedded software quality assurance and testing, V2X Communications. Frances has multiple years of experience as an EU Project coordinator of SecCord and Effectsplus EU FP7 CSA funded research projects that relates to trust and security. Frances, also, over the past 2 years, has specifically been focusing on smart and connected mobility research topics and has a direct interest in urban mobility, transport and automotive related research thematic areas (e.g. ADAS, MaaS, intelligent/Smart transport and mobility and the adoption and use of ICT technologies to intelligent transport systems, physical Internet). Currently, Frances is a Research Unit Manager in TSSG, Waterford Institute Of Technology and actively leads a Unit that has expertise relating to Pervasive sensing, Embedded Systems Communications and Bio-Nano Communications. The Unit specifically focuses on new innovations and application of new emerging technologies across the Health and Transport verticals.