Researchers in America may have finally found an worthwhile use for the handheld radar guns police use to catch speeding motorists at the roadside.
By adjusting the frequency of the microwave pulse emitted by the guns the team were able to identify a would-be suicide bomber from up to ten metres away.
William Fox of the Naval Postgraduate School and John Vesecky of the University of California realised that some of the information in the reflected signal used to calculate velocity could also be utilised to detect the wiring loops used in the explosive vests.
In tests the system returned an 85 per cent success rate in identifying a bomber amongst a crowd of people. Inevitably there are some issues – false positives are currently a problem – but the team is hoping to gain US Army funding to develop the technology.
If perfected the radar guns would likely prove ideal equipment for the military checkpoints which are often the targets of suicide bombers in Iraq and Afghanistan.