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Stopping Cars With Microwave Radiation

samzenpus posted more than 6 years ago | from the stops-in-under-a-minute dept.

Transportation 522

Ponca City, We Love You writes "Researchers have created an electromagnetic system that can quickly bring a vehicle to a stop by sending out pulses of microwave radiation to disable the microprocessors that control the central engine functions in a car. A 200-pound unit attached to the roof of a police car can be used to stop fleeing and noncooperative vehicles. The average power emitted in a single shot is about 10 kilowatts at 100 hertz and since each radiated pulse lasts about 50 nanoseconds, the total energy output is 100 joules at a distance of 15 meters. One concern with the device is that it could cause an accident if a car is disabled and a driver loses steering control. The device could also disable other vehicles in the area so the most practical application may be for perimeter protection at remote areas. Criminals have a work-around too. Since electronic control modules were not built into most cars until 1972, the system will not work on automobiles made before that year."

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522 comments

What happens when... (5, Funny)

cuteseal (794590) | more than 6 years ago | (#21345297)

What happens when criminals get their hands on this and start disabling police cars as well? :D

Re:What happens when... (2, Interesting)

explosivejared (1186049) | more than 6 years ago | (#21345373)

I imagine it won't be all that big of a deal at all. I really am missing how the thing works at all. The article mentioned that it had the possibility of shutting off bystander's cars as well. What's to stop it from killing the engine to the police car, or in your hypothetical, the suspect's car? I can't see this ever coming into wide spread usage. The on-star style kill-switch mechanism is much more likely to fill this product's intended niche.

Re:What happens when... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21345457)

Did you fail reading comprehension? If you're not going to read the article, the summary, or even the comment you're responding to, please fuck off.

Re:What happens when... (1)

explosivejared (1186049) | more than 6 years ago | (#21345569)

I'm sorry you feel so strongly, but I think I addressed the parent pretty well despite the fact that it may very well have been a joke. I feel that the technical limitations of the device will limit its use, ergo criminals won't be able to use it to affect police activities. If you would research the on-star kill-switch [google.com] you'd see why I feel it is better suited to this sort of thing, technically. Note I said technically so don't come back with any big brother flamage.

Re:What happens when... (3, Informative)

evanbd (210358) | more than 6 years ago | (#21345677)

What's to stop it from killing the engine to the police car?

Directional antennas [wikipedia.org] are not exactly new technology. They work just fine for high-power microwave transmitters.

Re:What happens when... (1)

dwater (72834) | more than 6 years ago | (#21345765)

I guess they wouldn't aim the beam at their own car...or the cars of by-standers. ...or they could fit their own microchips with a metal jacket which shields it from this sort of thing. Of course, the bad guy could do that too, if they have foresight.

On the other hand : "But the Eureka Aerospace system is only six to eight feet long (antennae included) and not quite three feet wide." That thing is kind huge...

Might stop people using their cell phones while driving though.

Re:What happens when... (1)

ILuvRamen (1026668) | more than 6 years ago | (#21345401)

screw that! A gun that disables microprocessors?! I'm worried about more than stupid cop cars. In midflight, there goes planes, spaceships, satellites, and missiles...I'm too lazy to think of any more but how many guidance and propulsion technologies in transportation devices use microprocessors? A LOT!

Re:What happens when... (2, Funny)

CrazyJim1 (809850) | more than 6 years ago | (#21345445)

screw that! A gun that disables microprocessors?! I'm worried about more than stupid cop cars. In midflight, there goes planes, spaceships, satellites, and missiles... Remind me in case of nuclear war to drive 100mph down the interstate for the sake of the world.

Re:What happens when... (1)

scheme (19778) | more than 6 years ago | (#21345517)

screw that! A gun that disables microprocessors?! I'm worried about more than stupid cop cars. In midflight, there goes planes, spaceships, satellites, and missiles...I'm too lazy to think of any more but how many guidance and propulsion technologies in transportation devices use microprocessors? A LOT!

As the distance to the microprocessor increases the power needed increases as the square of the distance. You can reduce that requirement a bit by focusing the beam but given the 100J requirement at 15 feet, trying to disable a plane 20,000 feet above you is going to need a lot of power. Disabling satellites is going to require enough power that you essentially need a dedicate power station.

Re:What happens when... (2)

leenks (906881) | more than 6 years ago | (#21345575)

Maybe I'll take the 2nd generation, two pound device onto a plane in my hand luggage - I imagine it would be somewhat less than 20,000 feet away from a processor then.

Won't stop my 1980s car (1)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 6 years ago | (#21345525)

No electronics to kill.

Re:Won't stop my 1980s car (0, Redundant)

tjstork (137384) | more than 6 years ago | (#21345629)

No electronics to kill.

if (fuelInjection) {
        electronicDisable();
} else {
        cout

Re:Won't stop my 1980s car (1)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 6 years ago | (#21345719)

No fuel injection, no electronic brakes, airbags...

Sure you can kill the clock if you want, that won't stop me!

Re:What happens when... (2, Informative)

Jasin Natael (14968) | more than 6 years ago | (#21345667)

I'm pretty sure the technology has been available to crafty criminals for some time now. This is an old story, as I remember reading about a homebrew project HERF gun, complete with a video of the guy stopping a car in its tracks, right here on Slashdot eight years ago [slashdot.org] . Although, the car-stopping video could be a misplaced memory that actually goes with this later story [slashdot.org] . This is the commercialization of that tech, but (and my memory may be fuzzy here) the one I remember was built with a bank of capacitors from the flash circuits of discarded one-time-use cameras.

BTW, I totally lucked out on this one, since "HERF" is such a rare term. Slashdot search tends to be abysmal for more common words.

Re:What happens when... (2, Funny)

Joebert (946227) | more than 6 years ago | (#21345747)

What happens when criminals get their hands on this and start disabling police cars as well? :D

It turns into an old fashioned foot race when the '67 Camaro they're driving as a workaround runs out of gas 30 seconds later.

Gotta love those 100-Hz microwaves (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21345301)

Maybe they'd be useful against idiot ricers with loud subwoofers. Can I has grant?

Grandma was found dead at the scene (5, Funny)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 6 years ago | (#21345309)

Grandma was pulled over by the sheriff
Coming home from our house Christmas eve.
Cops say microwaves can be used safely,
But as for me and Grandpa, we disbelieve.

Re:Grandma was found dead at the scene (2, Interesting)

skelly33 (891182) | more than 6 years ago | (#21345369)

Agreed - sounds like a cool way to disable pace-makers, hearing aids and the likes. I don't foresee this thing taking off not only for safety concerns, but because it just doesn't seem practical for police to outfit specialized vehicles with equipment like this. 99 out of 100 (made up statistic) police cars are run-of-the-mill cruisers/interceptors and the extra 1 is parked somewhere with no hope of being in the right place at the right time clear across town.

Re:Grandma was found dead at the scene (1)

modecx (130548) | more than 6 years ago | (#21345431)

radiation killed the transistors,
in her brand new pacemaker
while the flashing indicators
marked her Honda-mausoleum

Slippery Slope Guy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21345441)

Microwave radiation might seem like a useful tool for law enforcement, but it's a slippery slope. First it will be used to stop Al-Qaeda operatives from driving suicide truck bombs into our troop barracks, but the next thing you know the highway patrol officers will be frying your nut sack for looking at them the wrong way and there's not a damn thing you can do about it!

Perhaps not funny.... (2, Insightful)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 6 years ago | (#21345755)

If it can nuke a car, perhaps it will nuke a pacemaker.... or explode a hearing aid in granny's head.

Killing the CPU that controls the brakes, or randomly firing an airbag/ gearbox system, might not be clever either.

As reported in The Register, this is all likely to be shit of the bull and more useful for military use than police use.

Curses (1)

lakeland (218447) | more than 6 years ago | (#21345311)

Now everybody knows the cunning terrorism attack vector I had planned. I bet they'll go and fix it now so Americans are no longer vulnerable. Here's hoping the police insist it must not be fixed for 'security reasons'.

bubba is a terrorist/criminal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21345317)

beware of old muscle cars... they are the mark of a terrorist or criminal

*lots of good ol'boys going on the terror watch list very soon.

Can't stop a Diesel (3, Insightful)

moose5435 (761162) | more than 6 years ago | (#21345331)

This is absolutely useless against old diesel cars. I don't need no stinkin' computers or sparkplugs.

Re:Can't stop a Diesel (0, Redundant)

Technician (215283) | more than 6 years ago | (#21345467)

This is absolutely useless against old diesel cars. I don't need no stinkin' computers or sparkplugs.

Many of them to prevent starting off in a cloud of smoke due to low engine RPM and cold starting tempratures do have an engine control module. You might still move, but with limited injector control. It could be a slow speed chase.

Re:Can't stop a Diesel (1)

frup (998325) | more than 6 years ago | (#21345495)

Will the bush administration now start a push to eco friendly electric cars in the name of anti-terrorism?

And 1966 Cadillacs (1)

kybred (795293) | more than 6 years ago | (#21345701)

I don't need no stinkin' computers or sparkplugs.

Just try stopping one of those 5000 lb behemoths. (yes, I read the summary).

Faraday cage (4, Insightful)

Nimey (114278) | more than 6 years ago | (#21345333)

So you put a Faraday cage around the car's ECM. Problem solved?

Also, are these rays energetic enough for, say, crowd control? And what if the cops are chasing someone with a pacemaker?

Re:Faraday cage (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21345363)

Don't taze me bro'!

Re:Faraday cage (5, Insightful)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 6 years ago | (#21345371)

And what if the cops are chasing someone with a pacemaker?

      Then the cops involved are suspended with pay during the official investigation, which will find that the cops could not be reasonably expected to have known that the person had a pacemaker, so they will be off the hook, AS USUAL.

Re:Faraday cage (1)

ookabooka (731013) | more than 6 years ago | (#21345459)

Family of victim sue state and company. State and company owe millions, now require waver to drive in a state.

Re:Faraday cage (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21345489)

so they will be off the hook, AS USUAL.

And people will agree with that outcome since the person who died was "disobeying a police office", a crime so serious it certainly deserves summary execution without trial.

Re:Faraday cage (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21345689)

Fascist much?

Re:Faraday cage (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21345407)

At frequencies below about 400MHz, interference with equipment is caused by the cabling acting as an antenna and then carrying interference currents into the shielded box. So you need to shield all the cabling as well. Also you need to do a good job it it, effectively shielding equipment against an intentional threat at this sort of level isn't trivial.

And no, not enough power for crowd control, but I think it would stand a good chance of messing with a pacemaker.

Re:Faraday cage (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21345421)

No. Each wire entering into the ECM is another vector, thus inputs into the ECM would have to be protected. As well as ground... you start to get the idea. And the ECM isn't the only computer in most cars today...

Re:Faraday cage (4, Informative)

Technician (215283) | more than 6 years ago | (#21345507)

No. Each wire entering into the ECM is another vector, thus inputs into the ECM would have to be protected.

Coaxial feed thru capacitors through a RF gasketed cover followed by a small RF choke and ferrite bead should do the trick.

Re:Faraday cage (1)

megaditto (982598) | more than 6 years ago | (#21345603)

Don't forget the metal-oxide varistors!

Re:Faraday cage (2, Funny)

MicktheMech (697533) | more than 6 years ago | (#21345641)

What you really need is a flux capacitor. As an added bonus it will limit any high speed pursuits to a maximum of 88mph!

Re:Faraday cage (1)

kevmatic (1133523) | more than 6 years ago | (#21345771)

Uh-huh. You go ahead and look at your car's computer. At home many wires are coming out of it. Then let me know how much fun that is.

There's probably several hundred, if you even find the right computer.

The only engine computer I've ever gotten a good look at is the one in our 1994 Diesel F250. It went bad and was $1400 to replace.
It is pretty much in a Faraday cage; its enclosed in a solid metal case sealed along the edges with silicone.

Re:Faraday cage (1)

syzler (748241) | more than 6 years ago | (#21345437)

And what if the cops are chasing someone with a pacemaker?

Umm, they'll stop dead instead of coming to a dead stop?

Carjackers? (1)

Chabil Ha' (875116) | more than 6 years ago | (#21345717)

If someone lifts my car I wouldn't mind if the police disable it. Therefore there's no incentive for me to put an EMI cage around it.

And now, on to something useful (1)

snl2587 (1177409) | more than 6 years ago | (#21345341)

I'd be willing to bet that the first thing that happens is that an officer jumps the gun a little and uses it during, say, a routine traffic stop, causing an accident (as in the worst-case scenario described) and an ensuing lawsuit. Then it's back to the drawing board for a new crazy idea.

Re:And now, on to something useful (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21345763)

No, the first thing that will happen is some RF newbie (tired of locking up the shopping carts) decides to design a man-portable microwave version, then posts it to hackaday or something. Then some more newbies will actually build one and hard-boild their mom's corneas.

War Zone (5, Interesting)

elzurawka (671029) | more than 6 years ago | (#21345345)

Seams a lot more useful in a war zone. At a roadblock in Iraq i think people would appreciate their engine getting shut off a little more the getting shot at.

It could even be set up on a speed trap so that if you enter a road block at a certain speed it would shut off the car automatically.

I guess once again the problem may lie in the fact that most cars in Iraq and other hot spots may not have the Electronic components needed for this. But hey if it stops something like http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/4323209.stm [bbc.co.uk] then i think its worth it?

Re:War Zone (-1)

TripMaster Monkey (862126) | more than 6 years ago | (#21345711)

At a roadblock in Iraq i think people would appreciate their engine getting shut off a little more the getting shot at.

And just how many of the cars in Iraq do you expect to have electronic ignition control?

Organic shield (5, Funny)

GaryOlson (737642) | more than 6 years ago | (#21345349)

Shield the microprocessor with some left-over casserole. Microwaves never fully penetrate the the center of that mass.

Re:Organic shield (1)

jambarama (784670) | more than 6 years ago | (#21345683)

Yeah I was thinking organic shield too, but not casserole - the driver. How are the cops going to aim this thing so precisely in a high speed chase it only hits the engine block, not the suspect? Putting aside the other stuff they might hit while following a reckless driver in a high speed chase, they'll have to shoot the car from ahead, a situation (having cops ahead and behind) that makes most high speed drivers even more erratic.

This really seems like a bad idea. If the pain is anything like the new microwave gun developed for the military and riot police, being shot with this would be far more likely to cause me to lose control of my car than just having my car turn off. And if the penetration is anything like a real microwave, it'll miss all the electronics housed in the steel engine block (farraday cage) and penetrate the guy - possibly killing him (heart attack, brain damage, etc.) or causing more real permanent damage than is necessary.

Collateral Damage? (4, Insightful)

AugustZephyr (989775) | more than 6 years ago | (#21345353)

The device could also disable other vehicles in the area

So when there is a chase in a populated area, the cops will leave a wake of disabled cars? That will be fun to clean up later...

Re:Collateral Damage? (1)

giminy (94188) | more than 6 years ago | (#21345751)

So when there is a chase in a populated area, the cops will leave a wake of disabled cars? That will be fun to clean up later...

Even more amusing, it sounds like this sort of device is *meant* to be used in heavily populated areas. In rural areas, there will be few roads, and ample time to set up a road block/run a tire slasher across the road, and little risk of injury to bystanders using either method. So really this little EMP gun is lose-lose: either it will be used in heavily populated areas and you're going to have a lot of dead cars in the vicinity of the end of the chase (and who is responsible for that? the police? the suspect?), or you're going to spend a ton of money on this thing to use it in the countryside, where a $50 set of tire slashers and an ounce of police coordination would do the trick just as well...

Reid

Oh dear (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21345357)

Pity those with Firestones...

parabolic reflective dish in boot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21345367)

so the police send the wave, and it get sent straight back to there car. lol

Steering? (3, Informative)

thatskinnyguy (1129515) | more than 6 years ago | (#21345375)

One concern with the device is that it could cause an accident if a car is disabled and a driver loses steering control.
Most all vehicles just use power steering to assist with steering. You can drive a car without it. Just remove your power steering belt once and go for a drive. It isn't easy, but it can be done. And the faster a perp is going, the easier it would be to control the vehicle.

With that said, if the steering somehow could not be controlled with the PCM disabled, I smell lawsuit. This computer killer thing would also disable any other computerized device... like airbags.

Re:Steering? (2, Insightful)

Nimey (114278) | more than 6 years ago | (#21345405)

I'm pretty sure that cars exist/are planned that use "drive by wire"; that is, there are no physical connections between the driver's controls and the throttle, brakes, and steering, it's all handled by the computer.

That'd be pretty exciting.

Re:Steering? (1)

thedarknite (1031380) | more than 6 years ago | (#21345493)

Not to mention that power steering is a hydraulic system, just like the brakes. Although some newer cars may have the hydraulics regulated by electronic systems, having them cut out won't be critical. For the most part the driver probably wouldn't even notice.

Re:Steering? (2, Informative)

guruevi (827432) | more than 6 years ago | (#21345607)

New luxury cars are being developed (some BMW and Mercedes - I don't know if they're being sold) that don't even have a direct connection between the steering wheel and the drive train. Instead, it's all computerized with some type of central bus system. This allows for much smoother/easier handling. The same is happening to gas pedals although I think emergency braking is required to have a hard link, they could take that out if they have a better replacement (brake lines leak & break after a while so directly controlled electronic brakes without the full hydrolic system would be great).

Re:Steering? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21345627)

i'm thinking not in terms of steering.. but ABS and SRS systems. A lot of these systems are now all tied together in one big computerized setup...

Re:Steering? (1)

thatskinnyguy (1129515) | more than 6 years ago | (#21345731)

I had a car once that had an electrical failure on the highway. (Poverty wheels. Who would have known!?) I was able to go from 70 to 0 and pull over to the side of the road as easy as when the car was functioning normally. This car did have ABS. ABS is just a little helper system. The brakes work fine without it.

Pacemaker killer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21345403)

Lets hope nobody near this thing has a pacemaker. Perps or pedestrians. This has trouble written all over it. Don't get me wrong, I think it's a good thing to have this, but cops have a nasty habit of using their toys indiscriminately, so if they get their hands on this we can expect to see city blocks of XBOX 360s and TV's get taken down in East LA in the first hot pursuit and then they'll have to steal new ones. That's a crime wave in the making right there.

Nice Gadget, but What I really want (5, Funny)

slntnsnty (90352) | more than 6 years ago | (#21345411)

Is a device that causes those obnoxious Bass units that shake every car for 3 blocks to implode. Now that would be a useful gadget.

Re:Nice Gadget, but What I really want (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21345499)

Such a device would inevitably be named
"All Your Bass Are Belong to Us"

Simple circuits defeat this (3, Insightful)

postbigbang (761081) | more than 6 years ago | (#21345413)

The same shunts that are used to protect home electronics will work here just fine. However, few will have the forethought to implement VDRs, beads, and other tricks to dissipate the load that this thing produces. Microwaves, of course, don't operate at 100hz, but the pulses are designed to deliver big bangs of electrons. This means that all of the components in the chase car have to be protected, too; this is also fairly inexpensive to do, but requires creating classes of chase cars with protected integral electronics-- many items of which will not be the circuits running the car, rather the notebook, 4.7ghz, and other electronics that public safety people use... radios, and so on. While the antenna for this can be highly directional, you're still looking at lots of jumping electrons to dance around devices that don't like that.

In all: bad idea. Instead, put unique RFIDs in cars, and simply logon and turn them off. Cleaner.

200 pounds (2, Insightful)

Potent (47920) | more than 6 years ago | (#21345415)

If you are pursing a fleeing suspect, the last thing you need is 200 pounds mounted on your roof. This would seriously affect the way the cop cruiser handles.

Re:200 pounds (1)

SnoopJeDi (859765) | more than 6 years ago | (#21345567)

I'm surprised it took this far down in the discussion for somebody to point this out.

200 lbs is not exactly efficient, unless it's got one hell of a range.

I guess since it's research, it can't be slated as ready for use, but even with miniaturization, this is far-off.

Electronic Control in 1972? (1)

tweak13 (1171627) | more than 6 years ago | (#21345419)

While some electronic control systems may have been available in 1972, it seems like computerized engine controls weren't really popular until around the mid 80's. I know of plenty of cars built in the early 80's that had pretty primitive carbureted engines, with no computer system and maybe just a few basic electronic sensors. How effective would this be on a car without a fully computer controlled engine? Wouldn't the engine need significant electrically controlled systems for this to even work? I'd guess that most cars built through the 70's would be immune to a system like this.

It's the fuel injection and electronic throttle (1)

tjstork (137384) | more than 6 years ago | (#21345735)

How effective would this be on a car without a fully computer controlled engine? Wouldn't the engine need significant electrically controlled systems for this to even work?

The two big things I can think of are fuel injection and electronic throttle control. If you have a carburator and a mechanical throttle, then I'd think you'd be good to go. A lot of the early electronics were more to do with emissions controls. Like there were O2 sensors or something like that, but many gen-x'ers remember ripping all that stuff off late 70s and early 80s clunkers in a desperate attempt to get more horsepower.

Once fuel injection happened, it got way more complicated. Then they added throttle by wire, and now they are on the verge of steering by wire. And, if you have an SMG tranny, then, you couldn't even shift gears, as those are all electronic.

Really, we should just bring back 1970s cars... except that they run best on leaded gasoline.

woops.

Pre 1972, or any 90's diesel... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21345425)

Any older non direct-injected diesel should be immune as well, since the most complex thing on them is the fuel pump...

Of course, only terrorists and hippies would drive an old diesel Mercedes...

Re:Pre 1972, or any 90's diesel... (0, Offtopic)

deadzaphod (699097) | more than 6 years ago | (#21345595)

My grandmother had an old diesel Mercedes... It was the worst car she ever owned; broke down all the time. Only someone who doesn't know better would drive an old diesel Mercedes.

Uh huh... (1)

djupedal (584558) | more than 6 years ago | (#21345435)

If these things aren't any more accurate than radar guns, we can expect a shockingly high rate of mistakenly stalled cars littering the route of some otherwise dull high-speed chases :)

And then there's the guy that shapes the body of his car into a reflector - that focuses the energy into a nice tight beam right back at the head of the chump driving the pursuit vehicle. fvfvfvqkwazzappppp.... POP!

Diesels (3, Informative)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 6 years ago | (#21345447)

I've run diesel engines with NO electric power (dead/frozen battery, broken alternator belt). As long as the fuel is gravity-fed, it'll run.

Fat chance stopping someone who decided to take a front-end loader to make an "ATM withdrawal".

Re:Diesels (1)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 6 years ago | (#21345699)

I've run diesel engines with NO electric power (dead/frozen battery, broken alternator belt). As long as the fuel is gravity-fed, it'll run.
Car computers go WAY beyond the basic electrical systems of a '60 vintage car.

Modern cars simply *will not* run without the "brain box", not to mention all the other little microprocessors.

My '84 Volvo will not run without its "brain box". At all.

Re:Diesels (1)

0100010001010011 (652467) | more than 6 years ago | (#21345743)

VW diesels up through the TDI could be run on nothing. The fuel cut off valve was just a solenoid (and I doubt this will disrupt that). Even then you could remove the solenoid and still run it, they were in production (In Canada) up through 1997.

You don't need a terribly messy brain to run a mechanically injected diesel engine.

really? (2, Informative)

cpotoso (606303) | more than 6 years ago | (#21345479)

First a comment: "The average power emitted in a single shot is about 10 kilowatts at 100 hertz". What's that, a microwave at 100 Hz?? Microwaves have frequencies at the GHz range... Second: probably a trivial amount of shielding (likely already in place in the car, *if* the ECM is inside the engine compartment) would suffice to stop this since the penetration depth of a GHz signal is very very small in metals (microns of metal would block it). Seems like a nice toy, probably not very useful, possibly dangerous to people around (e.g. with a pacemaker). Just a ploy to get a government grant...

Re:really? (1)

thedarknite (1031380) | more than 6 years ago | (#21345615)

The summary isn't particulary clear on the specifications. 100 hertz is the pulse repition frequency. THe actual microwaves are "tunable in the 350-1350 MHz range"

Faraday cage. (0, Redundant)

jcr (53032) | more than 6 years ago | (#21345481)

So, you shield the car's computer. What's their next idea?

-jcr

Concerns are quite valid (4, Informative)

AP2k (991160) | more than 6 years ago | (#21345551)

One concern with the device is that it could cause an accident if a car is disabled and a driver loses steering control.
This isnt a problem for most of the vehicles on the road today since they use primarilly hydraulically actuated power steering, but you can still steer even without hydraulic pressure. Same thing with standard rack-and-pinion and recirculating ball steering systems. For these three types, only a grandma that doesnt expect to loose hydraulic pressure will have any serious problems controlling the car.

However, steer-by-wire systems are quickly coming into play in America, especially on some of the lower-end GM products. Now I'm no GM engineer yet, but from what I gather the steering system is either on the GMLAN high speed bus or it has its own bus but still gets data off GMLAN.

Now suppose the ECM stops giving out speed information on the GMLAN bus. Hopefully there is a contingency plan in the steering logic so that you can still have some steering I/O even without the vehicle speed information, but if the output isnt on its own bus, I cant say I'd want to be in that car.

Nova (1)

pete-classic (75983) | more than 6 years ago | (#21345559)

Man, this is really going to drive up the price of the '69 Nova I want so much! :-(

It also turns the whole "no va" story on its head! (Apocryphal as it may be.)

-Peter

Imagine that (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21345573)

In other news, police officials are investigating the use of rocket propelled grenades to subdue uncooperative vehicles. "We tried these the other day - these grenades disable the vehicles in a hurry" says Lt. Sherlock, Research Officer in charge of Anti-Motorist Activities for the Trap County Sheriff's Department.

No shit?

Window Tint (1)

WillRobinson (159226) | more than 6 years ago | (#21345583)


Finally, a specially designed antenna beams the microwave energy toward an opposing vehicle through a part of the car, such as the windshield, window, grill, or spacing between the hood and main body, that is not made of metal. (Metal acts as a shield against microwave energy.)


Guess I will have to go ahead and replace that window tint, and make sure its the metallic type.

What would make a good reflector? Preferably parabolic.

Health issues? (1)

tubapro12 (896596) | more than 6 years ago | (#21345599)

I can already foresee them using this on some old woman whose car is out of control, thereby terminating the poor old woman as her pacemaker goes haywire. Not to mention the Borgs... once and for all the Borgs will be the ones hearing resistance is futile...

*THIS* Is How We're Spending Research Money? (-1, Flamebait)

photomonkey (987563) | more than 6 years ago | (#21345601)

Pretty simple solution here coppers: Don't pursue speeders. We're already doing ticket-by-mail for traffic enforcement. How is a piggy writing down a plate number and mailing the ticket any different?

As for criminal chases, don't do it. Even my podunk town has 2 police helos and one sheriff's helo flying in shifts. Use those to more safely pursue criminals.

But instead of using the above common sense, let's just spend top dollar on 'consultants' to find a taxpayer funded $1,000 solution to a $3 problem.

Pigs must be cannibals: they seem to like to eat pork.

Great... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21345605)

Now everyone wanting a sure get away will drive an old carburated (sp?) muscle car that will most certainly level just about any modern car it hits...

could this be? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21345651)

would this be like stopping linux fags with heterosexuality? those faggots need to be stopped!

Faraday Cage won't necessarily stop this! (4, Informative)

compumike (454538) | more than 6 years ago | (#21345653)

I'd like to try to explain why their microwave design might work, and why the "faraday cage" argument isn't enough: Differential vs. Common-Mode Signals. It's because of all the devices connected to the car's central engine controller.

Lots of old school communications protocols are based on single-ended signaling, where one voltage represents a 0 or 1. This includes RS232, Parallel, and even ISA and PCI slots on your motherboard. However, almost everything new that's outside the computer is based on differential signaling -- reading the differential voltage between two wires. This includes 10/100/1000BaseT ethernet over twisted pair, USB, Firewire, etc.

Here's the key difference: when you get noise coupling onto your signal, whether it's a pulse from the engine ignition coil firing or from this car-stopping microwave device, it tends to be the case that the voltage of *both* of the differential wires is increased by the same amount -- so that when the voltages are subtracted, the effect of the noise cancels out.

However, this exploits the fact that no devices have an infinitely large common-mode range. That is, the average voltage of the differential pair must be within some predefined limit, or your circuit won't work. By putting in a big enough pulse, this microwave device might be able to move charges around on the outside of the car body (which happens to be the ground that most devices hook to) enough to move the voltages significantly. This would cause any devices (think an oxygen sensor or a tachometer) to act as though they were momentarily dead.

Thus, even with differential signaling (which cars already use), it's possible to break things by putting too much common-mode noise on top. See Wikipedia article [wikipedia.org] .

--
Can you code? Want to become a hardware hacker? Educational microcontroller kits for a digital generation. [nerdkits.com]

Yeah, well... (3, Funny)

darjen (879890) | more than 6 years ago | (#21345709)

I hear tractor beams are much more effective at stopping large mobile objects.

I'm sure someone already said this (0, Redundant)

vsage3 (718267) | more than 6 years ago | (#21345721)

... but isn't this easily solved by placing a grounded metal surface (faraday cage) around your electronics? The only consideration then is ensuring that your cage is thicker than the skin depth that the waves can penetrate at the primary harmonic of 10 MHz, which looks to come out to about 1cm.

people are useing something like this on slots.... (3, Interesting)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 6 years ago | (#21345723)

To mess them up and make go out of there set limits and I just found this to day.

from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slot_machine [wikipedia.org]

Modern slot machines are controlled by EPROM computer chips and, in large casinos, coin acceptors have become obsolete in favor of bill acceptors. These machines and their bill acceptors are designed with advanced anti-cheating and anti-counterfeiting measures and are difficult to defraud. Early computerized slot machines were sometimes defrauded through the use of cheating devices, such as the "slider" or "monkey paw" used by notorious slot cheat Tommy Glenn Carmichael. However, more recent attempts at defrauding slot machines involve manipulating the EPROM, such as by directing microwaves toward it to disrupt its proper functioning.[6] Casino insiders such as Ronald Dale Harris have also been discovered manipulating the software in slot machines in order to defraud casino operators.

REMOTE MICROWAVE JAMMER DEVICE
http://arcadenemy.freewebsitehosting.com/microwave.html [freewebsitehosting.com]

yotube video of it working on a us game
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dMdEZezkrZ8 [youtube.com]
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