New tech stops cars using electromagnetic waves

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British soldiers search vehicle

A new device, which can disable a car using electromagnetic waves, has been developed by a British company.

Technology solutions provider E2V has showcased its latest creation, the RF Safe-Stop, to a number of interested parties at a demonstration in Worcestershire.

One of a number of companies developing similar technology, E2V believes its product would prove useful in a military application, providing a non lethal option to forces attempting to stop a vehicle at checkpoints and guarded locations.

While it is keeping its cards close to its chest with regards to who exactly has expressed an interest in the RF Safe-Stop, police forces are already eying it up as a new traffic policing tool

Speaking to the BBC, Deputy Chief Constable Andy Holt, of the Association of Chief Police Officers, said the machine had "potential, but it's very early days yet," after witnessing the demonstration.

In particular, police forces are interested in the RF's ability to safely stop motorcycles, a problem they currently struggle with using conventional 'stop sticks', which burst a vehicle's tyres.

Explaining the device, Andy Wood, project manager for the RF Safe-Stop, said: "It's a small radar transmitter. 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."

However, the BBC reports that some experts have expressed concerns that the device may not stop vehicles quickly enough, and there are safety concerns as to its effect on a car's braking and steering systems.

The device would also not work on older vehicles, due to their lack of electronic systems, though almost any vehicle with a modern engine, including boats, could be disabled using the kit.

At its demonstration, E2V also suggested that the RF Safe-Stop posed no risk to drivers wearing pacemakers.