The hijack-proof truck

Two entrepreneurs have hit anti-terrorism pay dirt with a tiny black box that shuts down vehicles at the first sign of trouble.

By Francine Russo, Business 2.0 Magazine

(Business 2.0 Magazine) -- You can't go far wrong in a truck equipped with an Astrata box. The device, half the size of a cigarette pack, can be wired into anything that moves - truck, car, shipping container - to head off nearly every conceivable type of disaster.

It can be programmed to stop a drunk or unauthorized driver from starting a vehicle, for example, or detect and shut down a truck that has been hijacked, locking the thief inside and alerting its owners.

truck_chart.03.jpg
The Astrata-GLP endows a vehicle with several Bond-like security features [see left].

The Astrata-GLP (global location platform) is part Big Brother, part James Bond - except that it already exists, and corporations and governments are paying close attention.

Powered by GPS tracking, wireless communication, and a Linux-based operating system, Astrata is the brainchild of Martin Euler and Tony Harrison, a British accountant and an Irish technology executive, respectively, who bet that the need for tracking and security devices would grow exponentially after 9/11.

Their client list now includes Shell Oil (Charts), Nestlé, and the government of Singapore.

Course correction

Astrata can detect a gasoline tanker that veers one block off its route, thwarting attempts to use it as a bomb. Security giant Group 4 Securicor puts it in armored cars in Indonesia.

Driver ID system

Astrata can be programmed to start only after the driver passes a breathalyzer test and presses a thumb for identification. A video camera can record the driver's activities. Singapore's Civil Defense Force is using the camera and thumb ID system in its hazmat trucks.

Speed tracker

Once Astrata detects a stolen (or speeding) vehicle, it can slow it to 5 mph or stop it completely. One commercial client uses the device to monitor how fast its truck drivers are going and how aggressively they drive. The box also tracks when the trucks are moving, so drivers can't pad overtime claims or moonlight with company property.

Instant holding cell

Doors and windows can be locked remotely, trapping would-be terrorists, thieves, or reckless drivers inside. The device can also be programmed to flash hazard lights, blare the horn, notify headquarters, and summon police.  Top of page

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Market indexes are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer LIBOR Warning: Neither BBA Enterprises Limited, nor the BBA LIBOR Contributor Banks, nor Reuters, can be held liable for any irregularity or inaccuracy of BBA LIBOR. Disclaimer. Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer The Dow Jones IndexesSM are proprietary to and distributed by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and have been licensed for use. All content of the Dow Jones IndexesSM © 2014 is proprietary to Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Chicago Mercantile Association. The market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved. Most stock quote data provided by BATS.