VICKSBURG, Miss.--U.S. Soldiers now have a portable, easily assembled barrier for roadways to stop advancing and possibly hostile vehicles, thanks to engineers at the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center’s Geotechnical and Structures Laboratory.
This vehicle barrier apparatus’ initial design was invented by Christopher Price, chief of GSL’s Geotechnical Engineering and Geosciences Branch. Price received his patent in May of 2018 for the Aggressor Vehicle Entry Readiness Technology barrier system.
An earlier patent awarded in January of 2018 recognized the unique Vehicle Barrier Rapid Deployment Assembly, created by Price and two additional research team inventors, using contributions from GSL’s vehicle denial research advancements made over many years by robust collaborative research teams.
“Justin Roberts and William McCleave provided design input and research and development collaboration during development of the AVERT barrier system,” Price said.
He added that McCleave, currently an associate technical director for military engineering, aided in the initial design, fabrication and testing efforts of the AVERT barrier system, and Roberts, a research engineer in the Survivability Engineering Branch, provided expertise in the initial design process and now leads continued efforts that advance the AVERT barrier system through strength-to-weight optimization and validation modeling and testing.
ERDC’s Office of Research and Technology Transfer coordinates patent applications and presented the inventors’ and GSL’s patent plaques at a road show ceremony. The ORTT's road show was held at GSL March 19, 2019; several patent plaques awarded in 2018 were presented to the lab's collaborative teams.
Price cites his experience in force protection research focused on entry control points and expeditionary base camp protection from vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices as a basis for his invention.
“Building on early vehicle barrier prototypes, I designed the AVERT barrier system, which is a lightweight and expediently deployable vehicle barrier. It began from Army requirements to mitigate VBIED attacks at vehicle access control points at base camps or impromptu route checkpoints. The Army required a portable means of stopping aggressor vehicles from gaining unauthorized access beyond a designated point to ensure Soldier protection and safety,” Price said.
He explained that the AVERT barrier system is portable, quickly deployable by two personnel and modular to adapt to any road width and surface.
Potential Crowd Protection Barriers
"All branches of the military and other federal and state agencies responsible for vehicle access control are interested in the use of the AVERT barrier system,” Price said, adding the potential uses of the barrier for crowd protection in civilian scenarios.
“Recent vehicle attacks into crowds have shown the value of employing removable barrier systems such as the AVERT to prevent vehicular access during social events where pedestrians represent targets of convenience,” Price said.
Detailing AVERT’s advantages, Price described the individual barrier sections as approximately two feet wide with flexibility to be quickly connected together to form a barrier system which can span any road width.
“No heavy equipment or tools are required to assemble the system, which is made of high-strength aluminum and engineered synthetic textiles. The system consists of a spring-assisted arm that, when activated, raises to prevent vehicular passage, or it can be easily rotated flat to allow cleared vehicles to drive over the barrier system.
“The AVERT also consists of a long synthetic fiber gridded mat that lays on the ground and connects at one end to the aluminum barriers. Any approaching vehicle must drive on top of the mat before impacting the connected barriers. The mat prevents the vehicle tires from touching the ground and thus no tractive force can be generated with the ground. Once a vehicle impacts the barriers, the vehicle and barriers then slide to a final stop. The larger the vehicle, the more friction force is developed between the barrier’s mat and the road surface, thus proportionally resisting the vehicles forward progress. Essentially, the heavier the vehicle, the more stopping force is generated upon impact,” Price said.
Multiple Teams’ Support
Price noted the innovative team included ERDC’s welding shop, which fabricated the initial simplified surrogates of the prototype AVERT barrier system, and the GSL Mobility Systems Branch’s vehicle testing team, led by Brent Towne; they conducted full-scale remote vehicle crash testing.
He added that first article testing and demonstrations were conducted at the Adaptive Red Team – Technical Support and Analysis 16.3 event at the Muscatatuck Urban Training Center near Butlerville, Indiana, along with evaluations by the Maneuver Support Center of Excellence Battle Lab at Ft. Leonard Wood, Missouri.
“In addition to the U.S. Department of Defense, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of State have also shown interest in the AVERT barrier system due to its quick deployment capability and no anchoring requirement. This allows it to be deployed on unpaved or paved surfaces quickly to control vehicle access. It is especially important where unpredictable route security demands a rolling security presence that can be quickly mobilized and then removed leaving no trace,” Price said.
Roberts is currently working with ERDC’s Office of Research and Transfer to license private companies to produce the AVERT barrier system for the open market.