The Car Stopper: Putting a Stop to Real-Life Car Chases

Sure, we all love the thrills and crashes of movie car chases. But what about those in real life where some nut is doing 100 mph on a freeway, cops in hot pursuit, women and children frozen in fear, others getting injured or killed? That’s not entertainment (though news outlets showing such footage may consider it so), and police have never found an effective way to stop these goons.

Something called an electromagnetic pulse cannon may soon be small and effective enough to stop a speeding car without killing its driver or passengers. Eureka Aerospace has been working on the device for some time. Called the Car Stopper, it has also drawn interest from the Marines and, lately, the U.S. Air Force.

It is called a High-Power Electromagnetic System (HPEMS) that can disable cars up to 200 meters away by disrupting their electronics and shutting them down instantly. No bullets, no more car chases. The company is working to reduce the size of the unit, which uses a 1.2-meter-wide antenna and weighs 55 pounds. They want to make a handgun-size portable unit within the next five years.

The Air Force is looking at the device to get beyond the use of helicopter-mounted snipers, and the Marines want a similar capability. Right now, the biggest drawback to HPEMS is that it can only disable microprocessor-controlled engines in relatively newer cars. But Eureka boss James Tatoian says they are going to lick that problem.

Anybody see a downside to this? I think zappers in cop cars is a great idea. What do you think?

—jgoods

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4 Comments

  1. Think about it, this wont stop a car imediately it simply turns the motor off along with the power steer brakes abs stability etc then the fun starts bringing it to a halt. Should make great tv footage as out of control car at 100 mph heads for the scenery.

  2. Possible downside: What will happen to a person wearing a pacemaker when he/she gets blasted by a strong electromagnetic pulse?

  3. Since cars have been sporting engine control modules since the 1970’s, it should work on just about anything. The problem with this type of device, though, is that it will also damage the electronics in any cars nearby because the EMP is not something you can focus. I suspect it will also be able to disrupt or disable other critical microprocessors in safety-related systems like stability control, ABS, and electric power steering, so they need to work closely with car manufacturers to test the device. Such a system in a police cruiser will add substantially to its cost because the car will need a “hardened” electrical system protected from EMP. The bad guys can do the same thing, but most crooks aren’t the brightest pennies in the bag, are they?

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