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Roadway Barrier for Decelerating and Retaining a Moving Vehicle
August 11, 2011

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Nets and straps capture the vehicle to control dangerous, high-impact collisions

Researchers at NASA's Johnson Space Center have developed a roadway barrier system capable of slowing and capturing vehicles in high-impact collisions. Energy-absorbing straps deploy for controlled deceleration, protecting the driver from a life-threatening collision. Nets capture the vehicle, greatly reducing the possibility of secondary impacts on other vehicles or innocent bystanders. The roadway barrier can be used on our nation's streets and highways, in amateur and professional auto racing, at security checkpoints, in homeland security to redirect an explosive force away from high value targets, and in vulnerable areas of schools or public parks to protect pedestrians.


  • Safer: Enhances survivability for drivers in high-impact collisions, catches debris from explosions, and protects innocent bystanders
  • Cost-efficient: Inexpensive to transport, install, maintain, and replace
  • Easy to implement: Allows for simple set up and maintenance of modular panels
  • Effective: Stops a vehicle traveling at 80 miles per hour within 8 feet
  • Durable: Deflects vehicles in low-impact collisions without breaking away


  • Professional and amateur auto racing
  • Homeland security
  • Highway safety
  • Secured facilities

Technology Details

NASA's deceleration-limiting roadway barrier was originally developed as a hatch restraint device for use on the space shuttle. The innovation has several applications beyond aerospace, including high-speed auto racing, highway safety, and homeland security.

technology illustration

How it Works
The deceleration-limiting roadway barrier is composed of three components:

  • High-strength straps provide controlled resistance to decelerate the vehicle.
  • Net or mesh, secured to anchors by energy-absorbing straps, capture the vehicle.
  • Energy-absorbing panels deflect vehicles that collide only tangentially with the roadway system.

High-strength straps deploy under a predefined tensional load. The net, sandwiched between two panels and anchored to form a segment of a barrier or crash wall, catches an oncoming vehicle and dissipates much of its kinetic energy through ripping of the stitches in the load-limiting straps. The panel facing the roadway is capable of withstanding small impacts and only breaks in the event of a high-impact collision.

Why it is Better
Existing rigid barriers designed to stop a moving vehicle are typically made of unyielding materials, such as reinforced concrete, and offer little or no opportunity for controlled deceleration. This deceleration-limiting roadway barrier protects drivers by reducing the impact of a collision and drastically improving the driver's chances of survival. Furthermore, it protects innocent bystanders by capturing the vehicle and preventing it from rebounding into nearby drivers and/or pedestrians. The system is inexpensive to install and maintain, it can be transported easily, and damaged sections can be replaced within minutes. In addition, the barrier system can be installed in cramped or crowded spaces (a car traveling at 80 miles per hour can be stopped safely within just 8 feet).

Johnson Space Center has received patent protection (U.S. Patent No. 6,997,637→) for this technology.

Licensing and Partnering Opportunity

This technology is being made available through JSC's Technology Transfer and Commercialization Office, which seeks to transfer technology into and out of NASA to benefit the space program and U.S. industry. NASA invites companies to consider licensing this technology for the Deceleration-Limiting Roadway Barrier (MSC-23178-1) for commercial applications.

Contact Information

Technology Transfer and Commercialization Office
NASA's Johnson Space Center
Phone: 281-483-3809
E-mail: jsc-techtran@mail.nasa.gov

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Page Last Updated: January 16th, 2014
Page Editor: NASA Administrator