Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Transportation United Kingdom Technology

RF Safe-Stop Shuts Down Car Engines With Radio Pulse 549

Posted by Soulskill
from the i'll-order-a-dozen dept.
An anonymous reader writes with news of a device built by a company in the U.K. which uses pulses of electromagnetic energy to disrupt the electronic systems of modern cars, causing them to shut down and cut the engine. Here's a description of how it works: "At one end of a disused runway, E2V assembled a varied collection of second-hand cars and motorbikes in order to test the prototype against a range of vehicles. In demonstrations seen by the BBC a car drove towards the device at about 15mph (24km/h). As the vehicle entered the range of the RF Safe-stop, its dashboard warning lights and dials behaved erratically, the engine stopped and the car rolled gently to a halt. Digital audio and video recording devices in the vehicle were also affected.''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.'"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

RF Safe-Stop Shuts Down Car Engines With Radio Pulse

Comments Filter:
  • by SuricouRaven (1897204) on Tuesday December 03, 2013 @04:08PM (#45587583)

    Pacemakers and implanted defibrilators monitor the function of the heart by detecting voltage gradients of milivolts. This weapon can reliably knock out electronics in a car - electronics designed to operate in a very harsh EMI environment due to the presence of the nearby igntion system and contained within the metal body of the car. An enclosure that provides a bit more protection than 5mm of glass and 70cm of flesh.

    So when they say this device poses no risk to those with a pacemaker, consider me a bit skeptical of that claim.

  • couple of thoughts (Score:5, Insightful)

    by roc97007 (608802) on Tuesday December 03, 2013 @04:10PM (#45587603) Journal

    First thought: When shielding is criminal, only criminals will have shielding.

    Second thought: This would be a really cool way to deactivate police cars that might be chasing you.

  • by AtariEric (571910) on Tuesday December 03, 2013 @04:14PM (#45587655)
    Digital audio and video recording devices in the vehicle were also affected.

    So, they can shut off your camera before they beat you half to death?
  • Re:Pros vs Cons (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mlts (1038732) * on Tuesday December 03, 2013 @04:14PM (#45587667)

    There will be a lot of blowback from this device:

    1: As mentioned above, if it fries pacemakers, insulin pumps, or heart plugs, how will wrongful death lawsuits be handled?

    2: If used on a motorcycle, it can mean the rider can lose control, causing a crash, fatality, and lawsuits.

    3: If used on a car, most cars are drive-by-wire. This means that brakes and steering will be made inoperable in some cars, causing an instant wreck... and subsequent lawsuits. Other cars will still have mechanical brakes and steering, but most people are used to power-assisted brakes and steering... and having their vehicle handle way differently can also cause a wreck... and lawsuit.

    4: What happens if another car is hit? Radio waves can be directed in unexpected places. Yet another wreck possiblity and lawsuit.

    5: Of course, the bad guys will have this technology sooner or later. Now, watch stretches of I-10 become nice kill zones for thieves who are desiring either pickup trucks for Mexican drug runs, or just to pop caps in people once their car is stopped to get soldier status in their gang.

    Bad idea all around... well all but for the attorneys who will make a mint from this.

  • by jo_ham (604554) <joham999 AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday December 03, 2013 @04:17PM (#45587713)

    Why is it that people name their product the very opposite of what it is? Is it supposed to serve as some sort of rebuttal? Safe for who? The guy going 60mph? Anyone around him when he loses power steering and brakes?

    It's clearly designed to bring police chases to a much more rapid end, so instead of chasing a guy at breakneck speed for miles and miles, with him maybe ending up wrapped around a tree, or crashing head on into a granny coming the other way, or a failed containment attempt resulting in him spinning out and crashing horrifically, instead the police just EMP the car and end the chase quickly.

    No one said it had to be safe for the driver of the car. I assume it's called "safe stop" because the alternative is a risky high speed chase.

  • Re:And,,, (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Freshly Exhumed (105597) on Tuesday December 03, 2013 @04:17PM (#45587715) Homepage

    Radar pulses, eh? Cooked internal organs, that's what could go wrong.

  • by phrostie (121428) on Tuesday December 03, 2013 @04:19PM (#45587741)

    sucks for those with a pacemaker

  • Re:Pros vs Cons (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Antipater (2053064) on Tuesday December 03, 2013 @04:20PM (#45587755)

    how many times have we heard/read about police chases which result in massive collateral damage and people getting killed?

    Not all that many?

  • Re:Pros vs Cons (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 03, 2013 @04:24PM (#45587841)

    But then you have a 2 to 5 ton vehicle with no ability to control it.

    That kinetic energy doesn't just disappear and at the kind of speeds that would occasion the use of such a device, that car is probably going to slam into something: a house, bus full of orphans, kitten factory, etc. The summary says it drove toward the device at 15mph. I'd like to see what happens at 50mph, 100mph or on something like a fully loaded truck.

    Additionally, and perhaps more horrifying, is that "Digital audio and video recording devices in the vehicle were also affected". As police, roll into a 'riot' with one of these going and you don't have to worry about the people involved filming you when you are standing next to someone who 'kept falling down of their own accord, honest, pinky swear'

  • Re:Pros vs Cons (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Zontar_Thing_From_Ve (949321) on Tuesday December 03, 2013 @04:28PM (#45587885)

    5: Of course, the bad guys will have this technology sooner or later. Now, watch stretches of I-10 become nice kill zones for thieves who are desiring either pickup trucks for Mexican drug runs, or just to pop caps in people once their car is stopped to get soldier status in their gang.

    I was thinking this too. Also, I shudder at the thought of some, say, 14 year old kids getting their hands on a cheap device that can do this and thinking it's "fun" to stop random cars while hiding behind a bush with no thought given to the consequences. I've read about kids throwing heavy and dangerous objects from heights onto unsuspecting people/cars below them. I'm sure this will appeal to the same people.

  • by netsavior (627338) on Tuesday December 03, 2013 @04:32PM (#45587945)
    A much simpler approach would be to sniff their smartphones, so you could send the driver a text that says "STOP UR CAR, LOL"
    In my experience, the average driver will obey their smartphone screen more readily than local traffic laws.
  • Re:just stop (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ScentCone (795499) on Tuesday December 03, 2013 @04:34PM (#45587977)

    It's my fucking car.

    It sure as hell is! So, just drive it on your own fucking road, right?

    Yeah.

  • by K. S. Kyosuke (729550) on Tuesday December 03, 2013 @04:51PM (#45588271)

    those high-powered NSA satellites can do this from orbit.

    . Five words: wavelength. Antenna size. Beam width.

  • Re:Pros vs Cons (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jklovanc (1603149) on Tuesday December 03, 2013 @04:55PM (#45588313)

    The issue is that many people who run from the police when chased for a minor traffic violation are not running to avoid the the ticket. They are usually running because they are wanted on another, much more serious, charge. By not chasing we would let serious criminals get away. For example ,serial murderer Ted Bundy [nhtsa.gov] who killed over 22 women, and the Atlanta child killer, Wayne Williams, who killed 28, were apprehended because of traffic stops.

    As another poster pointed out, a publicized no chase policy will just encourage people to run. It does not take long for an accident to happen. For example, a famous computer programmer was struck killed by a fleeing motorist within 2km of the start of the chase.

  • by Garridan (597129) on Tuesday December 03, 2013 @05:13PM (#45588555)
    Look at it this way: suppose any given gate in a processor has a 1-in-a-billion chance of getting fried by current flowing the wrong way through it. A new car has billions of gates across its thousands of little microprocessors. A single defective gate in a processor, in all likelihood, won't cause obvious problems. But... by the sheer number of gates, there will be some problems here and there. Little problems that aren't obvious.

    So if your car was stopped by this thing, it'd still work. Since it was the cops that stopped you, they won't pay for you to get your car checked out (onus is always on the citizen for damage done by police doing 'reasonable' police work, even if they're entirely innocent of the charges under investigation). So you won't get your car checked out. But then, you're driving alone on a rainy road in the dark one night with your high beams on, and a rounding error finally accumulates to a condition that the engineers didn't plan on (because they expected those gates to be intact as they were out of the factory), and you end up dead in a ditch, not to be found until the next morning. The press does some digging, and report "Driver died in an accident last night on I-42. Deceased was known to the police, investigators suspect reckless driving was the cause."
  • Re:Pros vs Cons (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Em Adespoton (792954) <slashdotonly.1.adespoton@spamgourmet.com> on Tuesday December 03, 2013 @05:22PM (#45588673) Homepage Journal

    This kind of thing would be ripe for abuse, but how many times have we heard/read about police chases which result in massive collateral damage and people getting killed?

    I'm torn, but this seems like a really good thing for police to have. Especially if it can be directed so that it only affects the target.

    People said the same thing about Tasers.

  • by zugmeister (1050414) on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @02:34AM (#45592369)

    A simple Google search for "non-nuclear EMP"...

    and as an added bonus probably gets you added to several lists maintained by govt agencies, such as the no-fly list

    I want to mod you funny for this. But somehow it's not really funny anymore.

Help me, I'm a prisoner in a Fortune cookie file!

Working...