It is believed that ministers are interested in the development of technology such as “geo-fencing” systems that employ satellites to create electronic boundaries around specific sites. It would connect with on-board computers in cars to prevent unauthorised vehicles gaining access or slowing them to walking pace. Sweden is already adapting the technology to vehicles in response to an attack in Stockholm in April when a truck was driven into pedestrians on a busy shopping street. Four people died. It could also be used to limit vehicle speeds, officials said, with demonstrations of the system being made next year.
The disclosure was made as it emerged that a British company was working on similar technology by using telematics to shut down a car or lorry when it has been hijacked. Trak Global Group, based in Cheshire, is working on a driver ID mechanism that links the black box with the owner’s smartphone, disabling the vehicle if the phone is not present. A separate system could also send out an alert to emergency services in the event of a hijacking or vehicle theft.
Andrew Brown-Allan, director of Trak Global’s research division, said: “It is now possible to immobilise a vehicle remotely, using the technology that goes into a telematics black box . . . We need to harness this relatively new technology to stop terrorists turning vehicles into weapons of mass destruction.”