Since the deadly lorry attacks in Nice and Berlin, companies and governments have been trying to find ways to prevent another devastating strike.
One French company based just outside of Lyon, La Barrière Automatique (LBA), has developed a device that is the first step in that direction. What can it accomplish? A retractable bollard that can stop a 7.5-ton truck going at 80 km/h.
The technology may be a critical solution to stopping vehicle attacks. It was tested at the Lyon Saint-Exupéry airport on June 14th and the bollard is awaiting certification.
The biggest difference between this bollard and typical traffic barriers is its strength.
“When [normal retractable traffic bollards] are struck, they no longer function… This product is of very sound material...it is designed to withstand big shocks. This is a product that is made to stand in front of dangerous industrial sites, ministries, or even museums,” Jean-Marc Sanchis, commercial director of LBA, told Euronews.
How does it work?
According to Sanchis, it's a hydraulic system — a big cube that weighs 350 kg that comes out of the ground pushed by a hydraulic cylinder that unfolds in a few seconds. That’s why the device can withstand extreme shock.
It’s not just about the mechanics above, either: there is a whole portion of the bollard underground.
“If the terminal emerges one meter from the ground, it's like an iceberg, because there is 1.70m in the ground.”
Can the bollard withstand a bigger truck?
The answer is yes if this truck goes slower than 80 km/h. It's physics, a relationship between speed and weight, Sanchis explains. If a truck goes at 50 km / h, the device may be able to withstand a 10-ton truck.
Is it reusable?
According to Sanchis, the first goal of getting certified was for the bollard to be able to stop the truck. After the truck hit the device, it wobbled a bit. So, they replaced the dented stainless steel cover, and it worked perfectly again.
What's the price?
LBA has begun to develop pricing. The cost of the device is between €10,000-15,000, plus about the same amount for installation. It takes LBA eight weeks to produce.
The 'Vigipirate' effect:
The French government operates on a national security plan called Vigipirate, which includes 300 measures that can be activated based on incoming threats and necessities.
Sanchis agrees that more and more, LBA’s business has been changing to adapt according to the Vigipirate effect. Increasingly, demand is changing.
“More and more, we are selling to communities and businesses increasingly resistant barriers, because small devices no longer adequately combat threats today. We now propose heavier obstacles, which were previously intended for embassies or industrial sites...really sensitive sites...now, we put them in front of supermarkets.”
The more widespread places now demanding high-security gear also include stadiums, shopping centres, or anywhere with large open spaces.