Texas A&M develops smaller, better truck bomb barrier

Now this is what you call a truck stop.

Engineers at the Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI) have developed a new type of barrier to protect buildings against truck and car bomb attacks.

Working for the State Department, the engineers were tasked with developing an alternative to the traditional walls and bollards that often are visually imposing and hard to install in an urban setting.

The result is a 12-inch-wide steel tube that stands about three feet off the ground and runs 17 feet from end to end. It’s embedded into a foundation that’s just 18 inches deep, compared to the several feet required by some other barriers. This makes it more suitable for use in cities with underground utilities and other buried obstacles, according to William Williams, an associate research engineer who worked on the project.

Despite its slim look, the tube can stop a 15,000-pound truck traveling at 50 mph, at least. TTI recently demonstrated its capability with one of the most dramatic crash test videos you’ll ever see. The barrier nearly sliced the cab of the truck in half.

Along with providing this level of stopping power, the barrier was engineered for low-cost manufacturing using common materials, and relatively simple on-site assembly. The plan is to manufacture parts at a central location and ship them to U.S. government facilities around the world.

Several of the barriers could be installed side-by-side with spaces between each for pedestrian access, or filled in with decorative but sturdy latticework for added security against attackers on foot or riding bicycles and motorcycles.

Williams says this design is ready for deployment, and his team is already working on the next generation. They plan to test a 30-35 foot wide version with an even narrower tube soon.

Better keep an eye out when they do, or you might run into it.