US firm Raytheon will develop next-generation panels that can scan rail cars to detect nuclear weapons and other materials.

The new panels, representing Advanced Spectroscopic On-Dock Rail configuration, will be developed under a $4.3m deal with The Department of Homeland Security.

Once a rail car is loaded with a cargo container at a seaport, it will pass between two panels that will scan it for illicit materials.

The new panels will be taller than the company’s existing version of the detectors and will be able to scan the top of a rail car.

The testing of the new panels is scheduled for this summer.