Stopping Cars With A Radio Pulse

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Proponents say an RF pulse device might have allowed police to stop a reckless vehicle on Capitol Hill earlier this year without using deadly force. (Getty Images)

Proponents say an RF pulse device might have allowed police to stop a reckless vehicle on Capitol Hill earlier this year without using deadly force. (Getty Images)

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LONDON (CBS DC) – A British company has developed a device that can stop cars with just a blast of electromagnetic waves, reports the BBC.

The RF Safe-Stop uses radio frequency pulses to scramble a car’s electronic brain, which automatically cuts the engine.

Such a device could be used by the military as a non-lethal way to defend sensitive locations from vehicles that refuse to stop.

There is also considerable police interest.

“It’s a small radar transmitter,” said Andy Wood, product manager for the machine.

“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.”

In a demonstration for the BBC, a car was driven at 15 mph. When the pulse was activated, the dashboard displays went haywire and the engine stopped.

Other electronic devices in the car were also affected.

Safety experts have expressed concern that an RF device may not be able to stop cars fast enough and it could cause long-term damage to the vehicle’s electronic braking and steering systems.

A company spokesman says this method would be preferable to methods currently in use, like traffic spikes or ramming a moving vehicle.

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