J-STORIES - Runaway vehicles, whether deliberate, as in vehicle-ramming incidents, or caused by drivers losing control, can lead to terrible loss of life and injury. And installing barriers strong enough to prevent them can be costly and impractical. Now, a Japanese company has invented an inexpensive and portable vehicle barricade that is highly effective in countering such threats.
Try-U, a manufacturer of security equipment based on the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido, has developed what is being touted as Japan's first full-scale counter-terrorism barricade. Called the "Hercules," it can be erected by a single person in under 30 seconds, according to the company.
When a speeding vehicle hits the barrier, the slatted metal sheets bend to absorb the force of the impact. At the same time, spike-like “pins” dig into the ground to halt the vehicle and a special rubber material on the upper surface of the base takes away the driving force of the front wheels through friction.
The Hercules barriers come in two sizes, with the larger weighing around 120 kilograms. But even this can easily be rolled around on its castors and takes just 30 seconds to unfold for use. The Hercules is also suitable for icy or snow-covered roads, making it Japan’s first year-round anti-terrorism vehicle barricade.
In June, eight of the barriers were installed at the Yosakoi Soran Festival in Sapporo. A member of the event’s organizing committee, Kosaku Ito, told J-Stories that they chose the Hercules to improve safety and because it was reasonably priced.
According to Akira Uesugi, Try-U's representative director, the company developed the product after receiving a request from security authorities to develop a barricade for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. After three years of development work with universities and other organizations, the new barricade went on sale in May 2019.
The company has also used technology from the Hercules in a new product called Barrier Pitto! This smaller barrier is designed to stop cars in more common and unintentional situations, such as when a driver steps on the accelerator pedal by mistake. When a car hits the barrier, most of its force is diverted upwards, helping prevent damage both to the car and the barrier. Unlike barriers such as traffic control bollards, the Pitto does not require the costly need to lay a foundation.
Vehicle-ramming and accidents involving runaway vehicles occur frequently all over the world, causing large numbers of injuries and deaths. During the annual Christmas parade in Waukesha in the United States last November an SUV broke through barriers and drove into the crowd, killing six people and injuring 62 others.
Uesugi says that Try-U’s mission is to prevent such incidents from happening in Japan. But once the effectiveness of the company’s barriers has been demonstrated in Japan, he hopes to start selling them around the world.
Translation and editing by Tony McNicol
Top page photo by Try-U
For inquires about this article, please contact us at email@example.com
Click here for the Japanese version of the article.