Collision-free with vehicle gates: Ultrasonic sensors position automatic monitoring terminals


More efficiency in the use of staff for access control was one of the main goals of Magnetic Autocontrol when developing the TerraPass vehicle gate. The approach: Vehicle passengers confirm their permission for entry themselves using a user-friendly operating terminal positioned directly in front of the vehicle window. Ultrasonic sensors from SICK ensure that the monitoring terminals can automatically move into a convenient operating position without collisions for all vehicle sizes.



6:00 in the morning, shift and delivery start at factory gate 3. Compact cars and small trucks crowd the lane towards the access monitoring point. For the last few days, however, access confirmation for persons and vehicles has not been checked by factory security, but by a new electronic monitoring system called TerraPass. As before, drivers and passengers do not have to get out of the vehicle since the monitoring portal, with its ID and smart card reader, moves to the vehicle window with precision so that is easily accessible, regardless of the seating position of the passengers or the vehicle height. But how does the system detect the vehicle height and any attached structures? How does it approach the vehicle without colliding with side mirrors, attachments or the car body? The Schopfheim company Magnetic Autocontrol, which developed the TerraPass, performs these tasks with sensor solutions from SICK. UM30-2 ultrasonic sensors detect the height of the vehicles so that the automatic operating terminal can be moved towards the vehicle at passenger height.


TerraPass development initiated by EU project

Magnetic Autocontrol GmbH in Schopfheim, in the German state of Baden-Württemberg, is considered one of the world’s leading manufacturers of barriers, vehicles gates and systems for human access control. The company logo “Access to Progress” emphasizes the innovative orientation of the company. That is why the company - successfully - took part in the FastPass EU project which was aimed at creating new solutions for the automatic monitoring of vehicles and persons. “After getting confirmation from the EU, we worked on design and implementation for a whole year,” reports graduate engineer Thomas Bürgin, who is responsible for design and development. This resulted in the creation of the TerraPass, a completely unique idea for automatic vehicle gates for monitoring persons. 



Access monitoring with the “self check-in principle”

For example, the monitoring system can be used at access points to safety-relevant areas such as border crossings, airports, power plants, the premises of factories, trade fairs or event locations, as well as correctional facilities or bunkers. The monitoring process is extremely simple for users: The vehicle moves into the access gate, and the rear barrier closes. The terminals, integrated into a portal construction, then move to the vehicle windows with extreme precision. Depending on the configuration, drivers, front passengers and up to four vehicle passengers overall can be checked at the same time. “The passengers are identified by the monitoring terminals,” explains Thomas Bürgin. “Depending on the group of people and the safety requirements, identification is possible using biometric features, ID documents, code cards or intercoms.” The data is compared with the respective databases. If identification is successful and access authorization is positive, the terminals move away from the vehicle and the front barriers open - and the vehicle can drive into the secured area.



UM30 ultrasonic sensors measure vehicle height

TerraPass was deliberately designed so that all passengers can stay in the vehicle during the monitoring process. However, in order to position the terminals at the side windows so that they can be operated with maximum ease, the respective vehicle dimensions must be known. Magnetic Autocontrol overcame this technical challenge using SICK sensors.

Ultrasonic sensors from the UM30-2 product family are used in the TerraPass vehicle gates for automatic height monitoring of the terminals at the vehicles. The sensors are specified for working distances of up to eight meters and can therefore provide high measurement accuracy in both cold and hot weather due to the integrated temperature compensation system. “Furthermore, they work regardless of the car body color as well as with elongated windshields, sunroofs or panorama roofs,” says Thomas Bürgin of the experiences he has had when testing the ultrasonic sensors in the pilot systems. He also praises the ease of integration: “The compact design of the UM30-2 sensors allows them to be easily integrated into mechanical constructions. Countless configuration options makes flexible adjustment to installation situations and application requirements possible, and the display combined with two teach-in buttons enables quick and flexible sensor adjustment.” Finally, the UM30-2 sensors impress with their high tolerance for contamination as well as the large operating temperature range up to +70 °C - both are indispensable properties for use in TerraPass vehicle gates, which are sometimes used in uncovered outdoor areas. 


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Distance and LiDAR sensors

From micron to mile. In all dimensions. 

Martin Klingele

Head of Business Unit Distance & Ranging

Martin Klingele has been managing the Distance & Ranging Unit since 2009 and is an absolute expert in his area. He and his team provide future-oriented solutions for measuring, positioning, detection, inspection and quality assurance tasks.


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