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Tanker Truck Shut Down Via Satellite 529

Posted by simoniker
from the let-me-do-this-to-fellow-commuters dept.
unassimilatible writes "Satellite Security Systems, in cooperation with the California Highway Patrol and InterState Oil Company, demonstrated the first wireless remote shutdown of a fully loaded, moving gas tanker truck. Described as "a viable solution to the challenge of controlling rogue hazardous waste vehicles that could pose a threat to homeland security," satellite communications were used to disable the truck in seconds, 530 miles from the demonstration site. But that's not all. California Assembly Bill (AB) 575 (PDF link) would require truck disabling devices, global positioning or other 'location reporting systems' on all hazardous material haulers. With all of the police pursuits in California, can mandatory GPS and disabling devices in all vehicles be far away?"
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Tanker Truck Shut Down Via Satellite

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 06, 2003 @07:55AM (#7405688)
    Imagine the US gets attacked by an organised force. Suddenly, the enemy has the full ability to completely disable the transport infrastructure. Not only that, with a minimum of their own vehicles they can have a replacement that they fully control within days.

    This sounds to me the beginning of the end
    • Sounds more like increasing homeland insecurity to me. Which seems to be pretty much in line with what Bush has been up to so far.

      Daniel
    • by Llewrend (135450) on Thursday November 06, 2003 @08:41AM (#7405894)
      I'm the sysadmin at a trucking company and we've had kill switches on engines as well as gps tracking for a long time. Most major carriers do, if not for hazmat, for pharmacuticals and baby formula. In fact, we have flowthrough to our EDI system so that our customers can track thier own loads if they want to and stop calling us about it. Anyone ever heard of AIRIQ?
    • From S3's headquarters in San Diego -- 530 miles from the demonstration site -- satellite communications were used to disable the truck in seconds, proving S3's GlobalGuard and FleetGuard a viable solution to the challenge of controlling rogue hazardous waste vehicles that could pose a threat to homeland security.

      And in other news, based on these tests the US Government signed a contract for full support for follow-up product for remote control of mobile military weaponry. You know, to make sure control

    • This is also going to be bad for the USA export sectors. Say you're in a developing country and you're trying to convince the client to buy a fleet of $100,000 American tractor-trailers vs. a Korean or German company's product.

      Some recent-graduate twerp in the purchasing dept (who got deported from the US on a visa screw-up because the Homeland Security couldn't tell the difference between him and the thousand other students with the same name, then had to start university studies all over in anoth
  • What are they going to use for "The world's stupidest car chases" now?
  • Maybe I've watched one too many movies, but am I the only one concerned about what happens when the bag guys get ahold of this and are able to shut down any hazardous truck they want?
    • Forget about the bad guys - what happens when a geek hacks this, reverse engeniers it and put it out as a open source project =) ?

    • by slobarnuts (666254) on Thursday November 06, 2003 @08:06AM (#7405744) Homepage
      Steven Seigal movie in the making.

      (FBI Agent)Theyve got a hold of the GPS TRACKING and SHUTDOWN system.!

      (FBI agent #2) OMG they are going to shuit down every tanker on the railway tracks!

      (Head GPS controller calls)

      (FBI agent #3) OMG every tanker in the US is heading towards a RAILWAY track!

      (Rail Controller calls) OMG There is Train heading toward every intersection in the united states!

      (FBI Agent) Call in Stevey!

    • Heck, what if the wackos in the state government get it?

      A while ago, the governor of South Carolina decided that he wasn't getting enough press during election time, so he started a mini-battle against the DOE and their nuclear installation (SRS) located in the south-west portion of SC. He decided that no more nuclear waste would be allowed to enter the state [for harmless processing] and eventually ended up sending the state's military against the Fed's mixed caravan of the military and HazMat vehicles
    • So instead of getting one of those devices that turns red lights to green, I could just block all the side roads along my way with dead trucks :) Traffic chaos for everyone else and clear roads for me :)
    • Maybe I've watched one too many movies, but am I the only one concerned about what happens when the bag guys get ahold of this and are able to shut down any hazardous truck they want?

      On the other hand it could be useful, were the a gas tanker being driven by a cyborg killing machine sent back in time. Who'd make a movie with a plot like that though?
    • what happens when the bag guys get ahold of this

      Don't worry: if I know bag guys -- and I do -- with any luck they'll be foolhardy enough to carry it around in a plastic bag - if my bottle of milk is anything to go by, this gizmo's gotta be heavy enough to make those flimsy "handles" snap.

      From there, it's all up to gravity.
  • by Walkiry (698192) on Thursday November 06, 2003 @07:57AM (#7405698) Homepage
    Road transport is already highly controlled, specially for hazardous materials. Things as (the terms might be off since I'm a Spaniard and I'm not sure how it is exactly in English) the driver's log book, tachometer register and tracking, and so on. Neither of these have made their way into "normal" vehicles (your car or mine, that is).
  • While not manditory, the foundations for this are already being setup by the continued expansion of the OnStar (and maybe others?) systems. Given that, I think that the paranoid "slippery slope" underpinnings of the article poster to be a bit melodramatic. I know that they've also been working on various EMP systems to try to shut cars down remotely.
  • by Ececheira (86172) on Thursday November 06, 2003 @07:58AM (#7405709)
    Trucks that get Hazmat certification already are very highly regulated, far more so than normal trucks and passenger cars.


    Requiring them to have onboard GPS with remote deactivation makes sense here, and I don't think that just because hazmat tucks have it that it will be forced upon everyone. Commercial traffic, especially hazmat, has far less 4th amendment protections than your average joe.

    • Requiring them to have onboard GPS with remote deactivation makes sense here, and I don't think that just because hazmat tucks have it that it will be forced upon everyone.

      Don't be so sure. It's already on the table [slashdot.org] in the UK. It started out as just a way to collect use fees on high-traffic roads turing peak times, but is slated to expand into a means to enforce all traffic regs.

      Can't happen in the U.S. you say? Maybe not, but photoradar had no trouble jumping the pond.

      Note, too, that GM's OnStar al

    • the funny part is that adding that is 100% useless in preventing a "bad guy" from doing a "dasterdly deed"

      it is really fricking easy to disable a remote disable system. Hell, remember the "car tracking" systems they sold years ago that will let cops know where your stolen car is? thieves learned in a very short time how to very simply disable lojack transmitters.

      Hell there was a black market SELLING lojack devices that were removed from stolen cars!

      It's something to make very dumb people feel better.
  • Through the end of the year you can use a personal locating system for free at uLocate.com [ulocate.com] They have feature like the ability to set a virtual fence around an area and get a text message or email if a phone goes in or out of the fence. You can see the location of all the phones in your account from any Java enabled phone
  • If you are really paranoid, you can always go back to a low-tech solution: Walk.
  • What happens if the bad guys get hold of the technology and shutdown all trucks for the Chaos. Or purhaps use it to disable trucks carring high value items so they can be robbed.

    Whats to stop the "Criminal" them just ripping out the black box before driving the truck way? "Criminals" don't obey laws (hence being criminals) so won't mind being illegal and not having the shutdown circuit!

    James
  • by Lispy (136512) on Thursday November 06, 2003 @08:03AM (#7405732) Homepage
    Sorry. As a german citizen I always saw the USA as an example of freedom. Whats going on in the last few years is seriously disturbing, though. I hope Europe doesnt jump on the train again. I wouldnt love to see this kind of Orwellian politics over here as well. If this really takes off please rebel against since this trend really cuts into privacy and freedom rights of everyone of us...
    • On second thought I might just stick with my 1984 Fiat X1/9 [google.de] for a while. No GPS, no electronics whatsoever.
    • As a french citizen, I did too.

      That was before I started reading /.

  • speed limit (Score:2, Interesting)

    by mirko (198274)
    at least we might finally get rid of the idiotic speed limit concept : if it's that important not to drive that fast, then we should have our car slowed down remotely instead of having some policeman whinning avout a "danger".
    I once got a fine, by snail mail, one month after driving a 100km/h on an highway because some Belgian cop decided to put a 50km/h speed limit fine 10 meters OVER the lane.
    I argued that the traffic was dense, so this only meant everybody was driving that fast but this just didn't help.
    • "we should have our car slowed down remotely instead of having some policeman whinning avout a danger"

      Brilliant idea. Until you're in the middle of an overtaking manouver and suddenly your car decides it doesn't want to go any faster and you have
      a 40 ton rig coming at you in other direction.
    • No, we'll just start seeing "Speed enforced by satellite."
  • Obviously there will be many comments along the lines of "bad technology will cause more problems than it solves".

    In the case of bulk industrial transport, it's painfully obvious that what's needed is not just more automation, but a shift away from roads and onto rail.

    Rail is much safer and better controllable than road traffic. No-one would argue against remote control (at least emergency override) of train traffic, indeed I believe this had been standard operating procedure for some time in many countries.
    • Yes, but where your logic fails is that 1) train tracks are very expensve to build and 2) you still have to get the material from the rail termination to the final destination.

      You can think of it as the broadband problem, but without the luxury of counting RF carriers. Much of the US population has broadband available, but more than 95% of the US landmass does not have access to hardwired broadband. Build a house 300 miles from the Washington DC and you'll find that "high speed internet access" means that
  • by Chris_Stankowitz (612232) on Thursday November 06, 2003 @08:11AM (#7405764)
    Criminals don't acquire anything using the same means as law abiding citizens and companies (i.e: Guns, drugs /perscription or otherwise/, and in this case hazourdous material. Although this could be used to stop hijacked trucks, it won't stop the guy with a *van* full of materials that was stolen.

    You can't legislate away these kinds of problems.

    /me slaps forehead and sighs

  • Remember the scene in Minority Report, after John Anderton is on the run, where the authorities take control of the maglev car he's riding in?
  • The logic is flawed (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Viol8 (599362) on Thursday November 06, 2003 @08:17AM (#7405785)
    Your a terrorist. You want to steal a tanker truck full of some toxic chemical and blow it up/release it in a city , whatever. Do you

    A) Break into a truck depot at some obvious time (where there just happens to be a truck full of something nasty) and put the pedal to the metal
    and hope no one stops you before you reach your target. Or

    B) Steal a truck WEEKS in advance , have time to throughly remove any id , electronic shutdown aids, put fake plates on , respray, fill with a chemical
    of your choice and drive normally into the city unrecognized?

    Terrorists might be evil but generally they're NOT stupid. The is just more balony about "stopping terrorism" that we've had
    consistently since 9/11 and I for one am sick of being treated like some wide eyed brainless child who's supposed to accept all these removals of libery
    with a thumbs up and a "god sake america!"
    • by Speare (84249) on Thursday November 06, 2003 @08:40AM (#7405890) Homepage Journal

      B) Steal a truck WEEKS in advance , have time to throughly remove any id , electronic shutdown aids, put fake plates on, respray, fill with a chemical of your choice and drive normally into the city unrecognized?

      Why did I just hear the theme to the A-Team playing, and imagine a long useless video segment of Face and Murdock fighting over who gets to use the welding torch next?

    • a) This cuts out one method of opportunity for exploitation. Even if another X methods remain there is still value in reducing avenues for exploitation.

      b) If I am a terrorist I do things the easiest and simplest way possible. If I can simply walk onto a plane with a box cutter then I do that rather fucking around with complex plans.
      If I can effectively walk away with a truck preloaded with bad shit I will do that rather than committing a bunch of other independant crimes as a lead up, spending time loadi
  • Right... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by GypC (7592) on Thursday November 06, 2003 @08:22AM (#7405806) Homepage Journal

    Like California can really afford this.

    *eyeroll*

    To the paranoid... get over yourself. Like they're going to track you down and shut down your car and arrest you for the CD full of pirated MP3s in your stereo.

    If they know who you are, it's easier to just send the cops to your house. This is useful for hijacked hazmat vehicles and maybe eventually for stopping high-speed chases or tracking fleeing felons. Not for keeping tabs on everyone... not even California has enough state employees for that kind of volume.

    • Re:Right... (Score:3, Insightful)


      First they came for [telisphere.com] the tanker trucks, and I did not speak out because I don't drive tanker trucks.

      The price of freedom is vigilance. To ignore transgressions of your freedom, is to loose that freedom, inch, by inch, by inch.
      No matter how silly or worthy of an *eyeroll* that inch may be.
  • "can mandatory GPS and disabling devices in all vehicles be far away?"

    Yes, yes they can. People are very protective of their cars in the US, kinda like their guns, and we all know what Charleton Heston has to say about how you take his guns away.

    Besides, despite some recent concerns, the US has a relatively good record of respecting privacy.
    • But you don't need a license to buy or use a gun (in most places). Nor does the CPSC or any other regulatory body place restrictions on their manufacture (in any meaningful way).

      OTOH, you must register a car and have a license to drive it. To register the car for use on the road, it must meet a host of requirements imposed by the federal and state governments.

      Gus are the outlandish exception to just about every rule, and cannot be extended to account for any other product.
  • Switch the rig (Score:3, Insightful)

    by pvera (250260) <pedro.vera@gmail.com> on Thursday November 06, 2003 @08:30AM (#7405839) Homepage Journal
    Hijack the HAZMAT truck and switch the semi to one excempt from the remote disabling requirement. They need to do it so the whole rig is disabled, just killing the semi is not enough.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 06, 2003 @08:32AM (#7405857)
    As a trucker, I'll weigh in on this. The systems on trucks are generally Qualcomm satellite systems. The problem with that being it relies on a line-of-sight link with the satellite. Going up a mountain, pulling under a fuel island, all sorts of normal operation things cut the signal. Lots of guys put trashcans over their dishes at night so dispatch won't bother them while they're sleeping.

    So this fancy-shmancy Homeland Security plan can be defeated with a trashcan. Satellite signal blocked = No shutting the truck down remotely. And I know what you're all thinking, "What a redneck, we could just make it where X minutes of signal blockage shuts down the truck!" Right. And if there's a traffic jam in a tunnel, you'll just exacerbate it by having a dead truck there? This is just another of the gov't's "Big Ideas That Will Not Work."

    It's easy to block those satellite signals, and it's not reasonable to put a timer on it so that X minutes of no signal == shut down truck.
    • Tinfoil hat (Score:3, Funny)

      by phorm (591458)
      Lots of guys put trashcans over their dishes at night so dispatch won't bother them while they're sleeping

      So basically, in the future I might not need my tinfoil hat, but my car will?
  • by gelfling (6534) on Thursday November 06, 2003 @08:34AM (#7405864) Homepage Journal
    Sure. They'll pitch this as an anti carjack, kidnap, child abduction law to get soccer mom buy in and then they'll just make it a required part of the annual safety inspection for new vehicles. As old vehicles go out of service there will be little need to grandfather them in.

    Step 2 is constant motion monotoring to insure speed limit and red light compliance. This will be pitched as a cost savings measure since fewer cops will be needed. You'll simply get a bill in the mail each month for your driving usage and overage a.k.a. speeding/violations.

    Step 3 is a comprehensive shut down program. Unpaid fines, lapsed insurance, orders of protection, domestic violence, etc. Will all be used to trigger the vehicle's shutdown.
  • Or are retarded.

    You get to pick which one.

    Is this truly the only Earth I can live on? [mnftiu.cc]
  • by nurb432 (527695) on Thursday November 06, 2003 @08:41AM (#7405892) Homepage Journal
    Its called 'on-star'. its a customer 'feature', along with constant GPS type tracking of your movements. 24/7.

    However currently its just to get people acclimated to the concept of others having control/monitoring. Incremental acceptance of loss of privacy.

    Later it will be extended, then mandated "for our safety".. The police have been asking for this level of control for years.
  • by 3seas (184403) on Thursday November 06, 2003 @08:49AM (#7405924) Journal
    Seems to me that its a mindset issue, that terorist mindsets like bush and bin Laden are the problem, not the mechanics.

    Such technology should always be counter balanced with consideration of problematic mindsets, who are the controller behind such technology and machinery.

    Is such technology making it possible to effectively shut down major highways during rush hour by simply getting ahold of the controls of the technology to do so?

    In warfare, isn't control over communications and transportation top targets?
  • by ElWelshWizard (643893) on Thursday November 06, 2003 @08:59AM (#7405967) Homepage
    It will make the Deputy's job in Smokey and the Bandit a lot easier though!
  • I often wonder whether policy makers have even heard of a systems approach to security.

    In the media, infrequently asked questions include:
    • What action is this intended to prevent? Hopefully, it is obvious that security measures should prevent serious threats to security.
    • Will the proposed measure prevent this action? There's no point in building a security fence which doesn't completely encircle the object which it's intended to protect. If alternate routes are readily available, a security measure give
  • Most HAZMAT isn't (Score:4, Interesting)

    by redelm (54142) on Thursday November 06, 2003 @09:02AM (#7405982) Homepage
    Most of the HAZMAT isn't particularly hazardous. It's just not acceptable for landfills, usually because it leaches oil or metals.

    The nasty McGuffins in movies just aren't. If it's unstable, no-one wants to transport it, and will neutralize on-site. About the worse thing I've seen is used transformer oils (PCBs) and cutting oils.

    There _are_ serious road-vector hazards (LPG, halogens), but no one is talking of them.

  • ... when I press this button, a signal will go out via satellite and the world's oil supply will come to a standstill... *evil laugh*

  • I have wire-cutters.
  • "With all of the police pursuits in California, can mandatory GPS and disabling devices in all vehicles be far away?" Well, the next time I want to evade police, I'll disable the GPS box or buy my vehicle out-of-state.

    Holes in the plan aside, given how susceptible police are to litigation, the first time someone is injured in a crash after their car is shut down at 70 mph, they're going to sue to bejesus out of the cops. And probably win.
  • Ahh, good old alarmist Slashdot. I, for one, am glad to hear these unfounded paranoid predictions every so often. It makes me feel quite reasonable and level-headed, even though I always have to sit with my back to the wall in restaurants.
  • Oh, gee, I can't wait for this.

    If this happens, watch "old" cars become a hot commodity... either that or people will just buy into it like sheep. Yeah, the sheep thing is more likely.
  • "...the RISKS are obvious."
  • by Xeger (20906) <slashdot@nOspAm.tracker.xeger.net> on Thursday November 06, 2003 @12:50PM (#7407922) Homepage
    People have been slapping LoJack and other vehicle recovery systems onto their cars for years, yet cars still get stolen. If your car is valuable enough, high-tech thieves will always be able to disable any alarm or tracking system you have installed. They can drive the car into a shielded garage (or simply deep into an underground garage) and work on it at their leisure, without being tracked.

    The principle at work here is identical to the principle that drives software piracy. If someone gets hold of your protected object and has free reign to do anything he wants to its guts, then any protection you can built into the object is surmountable given a sufficiently determined cracker/thief with the right tools.
  • by Godeke (32895) * on Thursday November 06, 2003 @01:18PM (#7408149)
    if ((options == (__DESTROYVEHICLE | __CRASHVEHCILE)) && (current->uid = 0)) {
    disablevehicle(vid);
    }
    retval = -EINVAL;

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