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EU Transportation Security Technology Hardware

Automatic Brakes Stopped Berlin Truck During Christmas Market Attack (dw.com) 164

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Deutsche Welle: The truck that plowed into a Berlin Christmas market, killing 12, came to a halt due an automatic braking system, according to German media reports on Wednesday. The automatic braking system potentially saved the lives of many more people in the recent terrorist attack. An investigation by newspaper "Suddeutsche Zeitung" and broadcasters "NDR" and "WDR" found the Scania R 450 semi-trailer stopped after between 70 and 80 meters (250 feet). The system was reportedly engaged after sensing a collision. Previous reports speculated that the truck had driven erratically and stopped due to the heroic actions of the truck's Polish driver, who lay fatally wounded in the cabin. In 2012 the European Union adopted regulations requiring all new trucks exceeding 3,500 kilograms be fitted with advanced emergency braking systems. The systems initially alert drivers and then take evasive action. The regulation was adopted to reduce the number of rear end collisions by trucks.
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Automatic Brakes Stopped Berlin Truck During Christmas Market Attack

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  • Double edged sword (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Trachman ( 3499895 ) on Thursday December 29, 2016 @08:10AM (#53570895) Journal

    Could have stopped. Should have stopped.... Technology is evolving fast.

    If this technologically non-savvy terrorist had no idea about automated braking, just think about technologically savvy terrorist who will be able to program automatic trucks to ignore collision by hacking certain sensors. We are talking about automatic road killing robot.

    How would you stop such autonomous cargo truck with no driver to shoot at?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Kill the tires, kill the engine, kill the energy supply (gas tank or batteries).

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) <mojo&world3,net> on Thursday December 29, 2016 @08:28AM (#53570973) Homepage Journal

      Fortunately you have to be kind of an idiot to want to murder people like this anyway.

      • by goose-incarnated ( 1145029 ) on Thursday December 29, 2016 @09:04AM (#53571119) Journal

        How would you stop such autonomous cargo truck with no driver to shoot at?

        Fortunately you have to be kind of an idiot to want to murder people like this anyway.

        That fact doesn't lessen the threat; the world is filled with idiots, after all.

        • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) <mojo&world3,net> on Thursday December 29, 2016 @09:26AM (#53571219) Homepage Journal

          Sure, but if you strive to make the world idiot-proof it sucks for everyone.

          We shouldn't react to events like this by compounding the loss of life with a loss of rights, loss of dignity and loss of humanity. Most Germans can still remember what that was like.

          • We shouldn't react to events like this by compounding the loss of life with a loss of rights, loss of dignity and loss of humanity.

            You should repeat that quote the next time a shooter goes crazy and the vocal minority calls for gun bans.

          • by lgw ( 121541 )

            Sure, but if you strive to make the world idiot-proof it sucks for everyone.

            There's a difference between printing "do not eat" on the moisture-absorbent insert in foods, and making heavy equipment operate safely.

            Also, anti-terrorist measures that only stop dumb terrorists are useful.. If we're going to make rational tradeoffs, we shoudl consider that. (Of course, we'll never make rational trade-offs, we'll get increased inconvenience from the TSA because terrorists haven't gone after US airplanes for 10 years now).

          • We shouldn't react to events like this by compounding the loss of life with a loss of rights, loss of dignity and loss of humanity. Most Germans can still remember what that was like.

            Alas, they can not. The ones we have left (after the murder of the elderly, cripples and the certifiably insane by their countrymen) were not subjected to the bulk of the loss of dignity and humanity. A selection of them, indeed, were in part responsible for it. And let's face it, even the Jews (who can remember what it was like) aren't immune to falling into the trap of doing it to other people, or should I say another people? And indeed, you will find strong support from Germans for the laws we imposed up

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Fortunately you have to be kind of an idiot to want to murder people like this anyway.

        There's some evidence to suggest otherwise:

        Which academic pursuit has been the most prevalent among Islamic jihadis?

        It’s not the oddest question to come up at a dinner party, especially at the University of Oxford. But when it comes up between a Middle East expert and a sociologist, idle talk yields to a quest for data. That’s how political scientist Steffen Hertog and sociology professor Diego Gambetta soon found themselves poring through records of 404 people from 30 countries engaged in political violence between 2005 and 2007. Their answer? Engineering.

        Of the 178 whose academic focus could be ascertained, 44 percent of those were engineers—most of them in electrical engineering, civil engineering, and computer studies. The next-largest group, Islamic studies, had fewer than half as many, at 19 percent [see table below, ”Fields of Study”].

        * http://spectrum.ieee.org/telecom/security/extremist-engineers

      • Fortunately you have to be kind of an idiot to want to murder people like this anyway.

        The idea sounds like a good (for certain values of "good") starting point for an assassination technique. Say, link your (software) attack system to a Raspberry-Pi running an ANPR system with a commodity camera, and embed the hardware in a box of thermite (try reading this slagged SD-card!) Then truck drives normally until the ANPR sees one of th Ministerial fleet of vehicles, when it goes all kill-bot.

        Sounds like the act

    • by mysidia ( 191772 ) on Thursday December 29, 2016 @08:36AM (#53571011)

      Need to keep ahead of them by making mandatory Automatic self-testing with Error memory until serviced by a certified shop And monitoring of line pressure and devices, at least at engine start, periodically when idling or running at low speed, when initially accelerating from a full stop, And Failsafe Interlocks to the automatic braking systems To prevent applying power after an error is detected in the braking system.

      If the braking system fails to self-test, or Auto-braking has engaged but accelerator still pushed, then the engine computer will throttle the engine down to Zero and if accelerating after 1 second, kill drive power.

      • If the auto break is on, it does not matter if the accelerator is pushed.
        The break is always stronger than the engine and will kill the engine.

        • by sims 2 ( 994794 )

          Why doesn't the parking brake do that? People driving around with the Ebrake on happens quite often.

          • Because the parking break is designed to hold a resting car, not to stop a moving car. Hence the name, I would guess?

          • Most brake's can't stop the engine. That's why modern engine's have engine-brake interlocks. Engine power is reduced when the brake pedal is pushed.

            I had an old pickup with a stuck gas-pedal. The brakes were completely unable to stop the engine. Luckily, it was in winter, and the truck was on ice. The truck went forward until the front tires hit pavement, and then I had time to experiment. It was a rear-wheel drive vehicle and the rear set of brakes were unable to stop the rear-wheels from spinning.

            • by lgw ( 121541 )

              brake's

              Look, just remove the ' key from your keyboard, for at least a year. That will make the world, ever so slightly, a better place.

              For passenger cars and light trucks, the brakes have far more power than the engine if they're in good condition. Heavy trucks are a different story, though, as they have some very tall gears, and stopping on a slope can be challenging to begin with when loaded.

              • by Dare nMc ( 468959 ) on Thursday December 29, 2016 @02:25PM (#53573623)

                Sorry boss, despite your arrogance and confidence, your more wrong than right. I have done SAE brake certifications for off and on road vehicles. Most vehicles probably could not be brought to a complete stop from speed if they engine was at full power by brakes alone. The 2 problem are: 1) the brakes do not have sufficient cooling, the engine/transmission have much better cooling, and thus can produce power for a longer time period. Most brakes cannot sustain high power for more than a minute before fading, and will eventually fail all together. Also (for most vehicles) the brakes do not have the same mechanical advantage, since they are at the wheels, and do not have a gear reduction. They apply a fixed maximum torque, at 60 MPH my pickups brakes could produce 800 HP in braking force, but at 10 MPH that would be closer to 100 HP. My trucks engine can easily produce 250 HP at the rear wheels, down to about 5 mph, due to it having real low gearing for towing. If in my pickup the brakes came on full at 70 mph at full throttle, it would take a fairly long stop to get down to 15- 25 mph or so before they would equallize, until the brakes faded and failed, then It would accelerate again. This balance will vary widely based on the power and gearing of the vehicle, but most cars would be pretty iffy on if they could be brought to a complete stop, almost all would slow to fairly slow speed though. Of course at these low speeds, it wouldn't take much outside force to stop the vehicle.

      • by ravenshrike ( 808508 ) on Thursday December 29, 2016 @11:18AM (#53571879)

        Well, it's good to know that in the event of a zombie apocalypse Europe will be completely screwed because none of their large vehicles will be able to plow through the zombie hordes or parked cars.

    • How would you stop such autonomous cargo truck with no driver to shoot at?

      Well, how about not letting Islamic hordes of hoodlums into your country in the first place?

      It also takes too long to manually process all the asylum applications. Germany needs an AI system to flag those who obviously have no grounds for seeking asylum. These could be expedited, with a human making the final judgement. Any asylum seeker found guilty of committing a violent crime should be booted immediately. A group of Islamic asylum seekers set a homeless man on fire in a Berlin subway station . . .

      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) <mojo&world3,net> on Thursday December 29, 2016 @09:31AM (#53571243) Homepage Journal

        1. There have not been "hoards" of Muslim hoodlums entering Germany. Most of the refugees are actually fleeing Islamic terrorists.

        2. The guy had his asylum application processed in good time. The problem was they could not deport him because his country would not take him back.

        3. The falling is that the security services knew about him but didn't stop him.

        This does not warrant your extreme, xenophobic reaction.

        • 1. There have not been "hoards" of Muslim hoodlums entering Germany. Most of the refugees are actually fleeing Islamic terrorists.

          About half are from Syria most of those people fleeing democide inflicted by a secular government.

          The guy had his asylum application processed in good time. The problem was they could not deport him because his country would not take him back.

          Nobody cares about lame excuses.

          The falling is that the security services knew about him but didn't stop him.

          See above. Germany is at the very least to blame for not being prepared, putting out an invite that got thousands killed plus above "won't take him back" nonsense. You can structure migration in a way where these problems are mitigated or you can just take a bunch of half-assed measures and act surprised when it blows up in your face.

          This does not warrant your extreme, xenophobic reaction.

          Back in the real world when all you see when

    • i don't see any double edged sword : you can get a vehicle to accelerate without braking with a stone and a bit of tape, and "ignore collision" is the default mode without that system. But the problem would not be to accelerate without a driver, the problem would be to drive at all. You would need to remote control the vehicle, a much harder problem. Even if you used a driver-less car you would need to change the software to bypass all securities. Needless to say, it is much easier terror wise to get a che
    • I'm fine with a robot that automatically kills roads; surely, this can only hasten the arrival teleportation as a practical method of transit.

    • Could have stopped. Should have stopped.... Technology is evolving fast.

      If this technologically non-savvy terrorist had no idea about automated braking, just think about technologically savvy terrorist who will be able to program automatic trucks to ignore collision by hacking certain sensors. We are talking about automatic road killing robot.

      How would you stop such autonomous cargo truck with no driver to shoot at?

      You don't make these systems available remotely. In order for a terrorist to mod the controls, they would need physical access to the truck - and you would still have protection, for example, if you had a system with a burned in checksum that refused to operate if it detected modifications to the firmware. With traditional drivers, all they have to do is slit the brake lines or tranquillize the driver... And automated driving also takes misinterpretation mistakes, aggressive driving, and sleepiness out of t

      • Slitting the break lines does not work in a truck.

        Trucks have a breaking system that uses pressured air to keep the breaks open.

        If you cut a line, the air pressure vanishes imediatly and the breaks close and the truck stops.

        I guess you have heared the puffs and whistles when a truck starts moving, this is the air preassure opening the breaks.

        • Slitting the break lines does not work in a truck.

          Trucks have a breaking system that uses pressured air to keep the breaks open.

          If you cut a line, the air pressure vanishes imediatly and the breaks close and the truck stops.

          I guess you have heared the puffs and whistles when a truck starts moving, this is the air preassure opening the breaks.

          Ahh, thank you. I'm afraid I'm only passingly familiar with vehicles, but it's excellent to see someone thought of that. But then, surely somebody could tamper with the break pedal, or in some other manner circumvent the truck's ability to stop? If nothing else, incapacitating the driver would still be an option, and an autonomous truck would still have the benefits of the pressurized braking system, for example. This scenario would, at worst, have turned out the same way, and potentially could have been av

          • I guess you have heared the puffs and whistles when a truck starts moving, this is the air preassure opening the breaks.

            Ahh, thank you. I'm afraid I'm only passingly familiar with vehicles, but it's excellent to see someone thought of that.

            George Westinghouse [wikipedia.org] thought of it in 1868. The idea (besides answering the question of how to actually control braking force across a train) was that if cars became separated, the brakes would be applied automatically. The connector between a truck and a trailer is similar to that between train cars in that it's designed to break away if pulled hard enough.

            This scenario would, at worst, have turned out the same way, and potentially could have been avoided without a person driving it.

            Whether there is a human driver in the truck or not, remote monitoring would have avoided this problem completely. Class 7 and 8 trucks can be commonly

    • Too complicated. Simpler
      - implement system for police to take control over any vehicle so thieves and terrorists will no longer be able to flee and we'll finally be safe from bad people.
      - then get an authorization key and access the system. Also, the only people overriding the external access will be..

      • How is a permanent backdoor into the operation of my vehicle any better an idea than a permanent backdoor into my security products? If it's there in every person's vehicle to be exploited, it's much more likely to be exploited by bad actors than by the police. Here's something simpler: .50 cal api rounds into the engine block. It's very straightforward and effective.
        • by Sique ( 173459 )
          And it works wonders if 40 tons of steel at 40 mph are crashing in a christmas market. Right?

          Exactly. .50 cal api rounds do nil in such a situation. But you can be pretty sure to hit innocent bystanders.

          If this is your plan, then the next terrorist will not even need to steer the truck into groups of people. Your .50 round will do the work for him.

          • If this is your plan, then the next terrorist will not even need to steer the truck into groups of people. Your .50 round will do the work for him.

            A better plan is super-serious bollards. They have ones that pop up, but permanent ones would be fine in most contexts and much cheaper. You only need to put them in places where lots of people congregate, so it's not like you have to ruin every view with traffic control obstructions or anything like.

    • I saw that movie.

  • The system was reportedly engaged after sensing a collision.

    The regulation was adopted to reduce the number of rear end collisions by trucks.

    So, ... this system reduces the number of rear end collisions by slamming on the breaks after it hits something?

    • The system was reportedly engaged after sensing a collision.

      The regulation was adopted to reduce the number of rear end collisions by trucks.

      So, ... this system reduces the number of rear end collisions by slamming on the breaks after it hits something?

      Yessir, unfortunately the biomatter sensor had been bypassed after multiple roe deer collisions. [go.com]

    • by Sique ( 173459 ) on Thursday December 29, 2016 @08:59AM (#53571107) Homepage
      After you already hit something? What would you win by not hitting the brakes? People rear ending you still have their airbags and seatbelts and crumple zones, which will protect them from the worst. People in front of you don't. So breaking and getting some 40 ton heap of steel into stillstand as soon as possible once it is out of control (and because it hit something, there is enough proof to call it out of control) is in any case better than let it run to save the people driving to close behind it a few bucks by keeping their cars undamaged.
      • People rear ending you still have

        ...responsibility for following too close, the cause of the majority of rear end collisions. (The rest are caused by inattentive driving.)

    • by Nidi62 ( 1525137 )

      So, ... this system reduces the number of rear end collisions by slamming on the breaks after it hits something?

      It's probably designed to prevent issues of runaway trucks where the driver is in someway incapacitated (asleep, passed out, heart attack, whatever) or simply inattentive. It applies after the first strike to keep from plowing on down the road or pushing the first car it hit into the car in front and cascading on down the road.

    • by c ( 8461 )

      So, ... this system reduces the number of rear end collisions by slamming on the breaks after it hits something?

      A stopped out-of-control vehicle is a shitload safer than a moving out-of-control vehicle.

      It's not exactly a novel concept; RV's and pretty much any towable trailer containing a battery and braking system have had automatic brakes in case of hitch failure for ages (I had a 1979 RV with a stock system).

    • No, the system is designed (in this case, this is not an autonomous car or driver assisting car) to give an audio alarm. This alarm has to be acknowledged after a second or two by the driver. If the driver does not hit the 'dead man switch' the car performs an automatic break.
      The attacker in this case did not know about that system and/or where the switch is.

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