Why Look Under a Vehicle?

Why Look Under a Vehicle?

Why Look Under a Vehicle?

If you don’t know what you are looking for, anything can be missed!

Transportation of Weapons, Explosives & Contraband

One of the biggest threats around the world is when terrorists use vehicles, especially “trusted vehicles” to smuggle weapons, explosives, contraband, etc. into secure facilities of all kinds.  “Trusted vehicles” belong to employees, regular suppliers and frequent guests who are known to the facility and therefore “trusted.”  Terrorists know that these trusted vehicles and drivers often do not undergo the same rigorous inspection that all other unknown vehicles must go through before entering a secure facility. All a terrorist needs to do is to know where a trusted employee lives and parks their vehicle. Then the terrorist can attach contraband to the undercarriage and later have an accomplice inside the secure area remove the contraband after the vehicle has cleared inspection and entered the secure facility.  Over time, the terrorists inside accumulate the weapons and/or aggregate enough small quantities of explosives into much larger devices capable of catastrophic destruction. If a vehicle is stopped because contraband is discovered, there is no one to point to because the trusted employee was not involved. All the terrorist has lost is a small amount of explosives or a weapon, etc.  Secure areas could consist of places such as government offices, hotels, refineries and chemical plants, or transportation centers such as airports, rail and bus stations, etc. All of these “secure areas” generally have one thing in common: a labor force to assist with general duties such as cleaning, trash removal and receiving of goods, etc. (i.e., people with plenty of ability and time to access parking lots to remove contraband and store it).

Gatekeeper’s technology can automatically identify weapons, explosives and contraband planted on the undercarriage of a vehicle alerting the security forces to the threat and denying entry to the secure facility until the threat is removed.

In the News: Assassination by car bomb

A threat reminiscent of the Mafia and IRA days is still with us today. On more occasions than realized, high profile people are killed by targeted car bombs. For example, as recently as June of 2009 in Bilboa, Spain, a senior police officer was killed by a bomb attached to the undercarriage of his car. This type of bomb is known as a “sticky bomb” because terrorists hide or stick these small explosive devices to the car’s undercarriage via magnet or adhesive tape and then detonate them by a timer or cell phone.

“Car bomb in Spain’s Basque country kills policeman

MADRID (AP) — A powerful bomb exploded Friday near the Basque city of Bilbao, killing a policeman in an attack blamed on the separatist group ETA.

In what appeared to be the first ETA killing since December, a bomb attached to the underside of the officer’s car detonated as he started the engine in a parking lot in the town of Arrigorriaga, the Basque regional interior ministry said. ETA often uses that technique.”

Gatekeeper’s technology can automatically identify a bomb planted on the undercarriage of a vehicle alerting the driver to the threat and providing time for its removal.

The security threat is not what you can easily see, but what you can’t see!

Many security operations thoroughly inspect the inside of a vehicle (under the seats, in the glove box, the trunk, the hood, etc.) but rarely search under the vehicle, a fact well known to terrorists. If the undercarriage is searched, it is generally done manually with a stick and mirror, a running video system (little cameras in a row inside a speed bump – impossible to discern anything on screen), or a line scanning system that produce poor quality images of varying dimensions depending on vehicle speed.  Collectively known as Manual Systems, they all require the human operator to look at pictures or video to try and spot a problem on the vehicle undercarriage.


Manual Searches: inefficient and costly

“Stick and mirror” search

The security threat is not what you know, but what you don’t know!

From Gatekeeper’s firsthand experience, terrorists don’t put contraband under a vehicle just anywhere. In most cases, terrorists instead go to extraordinary lengths to ensure the contraband is not discovered. Often it is wrapped in dirty, greasy cloth pushed in over the top of axels or crossbeams. In many cases, items such as spare tires are removed and replaced with a metal plate to hide contraband placed above. With the best will in the world security personnel simply don’t know what the underside of every vehicle should look like and whether, for example, a spare tire should be there, not a plate, or if the vehicle should have two exhaust systems or one, etc. It is just not realistic to expect security personnel to overcome all these factors and limitations and provide effective vehicle under carriage inspections.

All manual systems require the security personnel to have the expertise and focus to know what the undercarriage of each vehicle make and model looks like and be able to concentrate on detecting any difference to the undercarriage.  In test after test, it has been proven that human operators find one object for every four that are hidden on a vehicle undercarriage.  Even well trained, well rested security forces cannot reliable search the vehicle undercarriage for hidden objects.  Inspecting vehicle under carriages manually takes a significant amount of time to process each vehicle thus causing long lines of disgruntled staff and visitors as the operator tries to play “spot the difference” or “find the object.” In the end, it is just easier, but far more dangerous for the security personnel to waive the vehicles through.  The incoming drivers are happier, not having to wait to enter, but the security risk to the facility goes up substantially.  Terrorists are smart and ingenious in their attempts to overcome the security measures used at a targeted facility. They observe how security forces operate so they learn how a security system or procedure works and how to defeat it.  They look for the weakest points and design their tactics to exploit weak areas and penetrate the facility.  The most common weakest link is the human security forces who are often low paid, poorly trained and overworked to the point of being ineffective.

There are several “human factors” that make manual inspection futile:

  • Humans get bored very quickly and lose their attention to detail.
  • Humans most likely have no idea what a vehicle undercarriage should look like – what’s correct and what’s different.
  • Humans most likely have no idea how the terrorist (smuggler) concealed the item – what to look for.
  • Humans can also be paid to look the other way - or they may be threatened with violence to their family if they don’t look the other way.

In the industrial world computer powered machine vision technology has been the defacto inspection methodology for all types of high speed, rapid inspection of production activities and quality control.  Gatekeeper is the worldwide leader in using high-speed computer powered machine vision technology to visually inspect undercarriages.


  • Gatekeeper manufactures the only fully automatic under vehicle inspection system in the world.
  • Other obsolete technologies, like video streaming or line scanning (manual systems), have been proven to be unreliable as an inspection technology due to poor performance and the fact that they rely on the human operator to identify the vehicle and try to find threatening anomalies by looking at running video pictures or poor quality fixed pictures.
  • Gatekeeper products will give you peace of mind with automatic and highly effective systems that take a lot of the burden off security personnel by making the search process efficient, thorough and easy.Global Reach Service: Gatekeeper’s technical support staff can directly service any of its systems 24/7 via broadband Internet access to assist the operator, download software upgrades, run system checks and assist with database management.
  • Gatekeeper’s highly regarded security systems currently help safeguard critical infrastructure such as: royal palaces, embassies, petroleum facilities, nuclear stations and 5-star hotels (just to name a few).
  • Tested, approved and used by the U.S. Military, Gatekeeper’s rugged and reliable systems operate in extreme environments from the harsh cold of Russia to the heat and humidity of the Middle East.