Scientists have demonstrated a prototype device that can stop cars using a blast of radio frequency pulses. The device, called RF Safe-Stop, can cut a vehicle’s engine by ‘confusing’ its electronic systems.
Its makers, British company E27, claim the device could be used by the military and the police to stop a potentially dangerous and out of control vehicle in its tracks. Deputy Chief Constable Andy Holt, of the Association of Chief Police Officers, admitted the machine has “potential, but it’s very early days yet.”
The RF Safe-Stop was tested by E27 on a range of second-hand cars and motorbikes. In one demonstration, a car drove towards the device at about 15mph. The car’s dashboard warning lights and dials behaved erratically as soon as the vehicle entered range of the device. The engine then stopped and the car rolled gently to a halt. The digital audio and video recording devices in the vehicle were also affected.
Andy Wood, product manager for the machine, said: “The RF (radio frequency) is pulsed from the unit just as it would be in radar, it couples into the wiring in the car and that disrupts and confuses the electronics in the car causing the engine to stall.”
The Engineer magazine has reported the device uses L- and S- band radio frequencies, and works at a range of up to 50m (164ft).
Stopping a car in such a manner when its being driven at a high speed could potentially be very dangerous. But Mr Holt pointed out that tyre deflation devices used by some police forces place two-wheelers at risk of “serious injury.”
Because the device works on electronic systems, it will not work on all older vehicles. E27 added it did not believe the RF Safe-Stop would pose any risk to those who use a pacemaker.
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