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Electromagnetic Pulse Gun To Help In Police Chases 471

Posted by timothy
from the hand-your-keys-to-big-brother dept.
adeelarshad82 writes "In an attempt to put an end to dangerous, high-speed police chases, scientists at Eureka Aerospace have developed an electromagnetic pulse gun called the High Power Electromagnetic System, or HPEMS. It develops a high-intensity directed pulse of electricity designed to disable a car's microprocessor system, shutting down all of its systems. Right now the prototype seen in a video fills an entire lab, but they have plans to shrink its size to hand-held proportions. Some form of this is already featured in OnStar-equipped vehicles though the electromagnetic signal used to disable the vehicle is beamed via satellite, and doesn't cripple the in-car computer, but rather puts it into a mode that allows police to easily catch and then stop the fleeing criminal."
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Electromagnetic Pulse Gun To Help In Police Chases

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  • by John Hasler (414242) on Friday January 22, 2010 @08:29PM (#30865536) Homepage

    Sure, but not intentionally. They'll also "test" it on parked vehicles, tv sets, computers, iPods, traffic light controllers, and anything else that happens to get into the "beam" as the cops treat it as a precise magic car-killer that affects only cars and only the ones they aim at.

    Eventually there will be an "underground" business in installing filters and shielding. It will become illegal to possess ferrite beads without a license.

  • Re:I can't wait... (Score:3, Informative)

    by nacturation (646836) * <> on Friday January 22, 2010 @08:30PM (#30865554) Journal

    The criminals have had almost seven years to try: []

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 22, 2010 @08:37PM (#30865608)

    This is the #1 reason why you should NOT ever had OnStar in your car. Ever. Not even for free. You do NOT need any 3rd party being able to disable your car, let alone be able to monitor where you are and the conversations going on inside your car. If you have OnStar, stop paying for it, find all the antennas associated with the system and cut the leads, preferably shorting them out in the process.

  • Oudin coil (Score:5, Informative)

    by tomhudson (43916) <> on Friday January 22, 2010 @09:03PM (#30865822) Journal

    build one of these []

    Use a mile of copper wire for the inside windings, and several turns of flexible copper pipe for the outer ones. Not directional, but it WILL disable a lot of the nearby electronics while in operation.

  • by Ogi_UnixNut (916982) on Friday January 22, 2010 @09:10PM (#30865882) Homepage

    As far as I know, most car bodies are still metal, because there is nothing else as good for protecting occupants in a crash. Yes, most body panels of cars nowadays are fibreglass, etc... but I assure you, the firewall, base body and engine compartment is most likely still metal.

    If the EMP Gun is a worry for you, you could always layer an extra grounded wire mesh around your engine to reduce it's effect, or as an old school solution, have a mechanical ignition setup for redundancy. It wouldn't give you the same performance etc... from the engine, but it's better than not having a functioning engine at that point in time.

  • by NimbleSquirrel (587564) on Friday January 22, 2010 @09:31PM (#30866018)
    Eureka Aerospace can call it "HPEMS", but really it is just another HERF device, and it is certainly not a new thing. In fact you can buy kits from places like this [] and build your own.

    This is a High Energy Radio Frequency (HERF) gun not an EMP weapon, although the two are very similar in their final effects. EMP devices are omnidirectional and create a blanket pulse across a far larger portion of the EM spectrum. HERF affects a much smaller part of the spectrum, which allows the generating electronics to be tuned for higher efficiency and allowing the antennas to be directional. EMP devices are usually much higher power that fry the electronics, whereas HERF devices typically only cause disruption (requiring pulses to be sustained to prevent the normal function from restarting).

    It will shut down the engine computers of most modern cars, but cars with carburetors and mechanical based ignition systems (ie. distributors) and diesel engines without electronic injection will be unnafected. While this may affect most cars and trucks made since 1970, it does not include them all.

    To get to the power output that will stop a vehicle from distances usually seen in car chases would require a massive arrangement, capacitor bank, and a dedicated power supply to keep the HERF pulses sustained. This certainly will not be the kind of device that will be mounted on police cars any time soon.

    I have to also wonder how effective it would be in an actual car chase (assuming they could find as way of making it mobile). They would typically be shooting it at the rear of the car where the bodywork would act as shielding for the engine computer, and there is nothing to stop portions of the RF pulses reflecting off the metal bodywork and disabling chasing police cars.
  • by Carnildo (712617) on Friday January 22, 2010 @10:04PM (#30866226) Homepage Journal

    1. It will kill the car, not merely create a carefully programmed disabling like the Onstar system. Most likely this leads to a car crash and quite likely require complete replacement of all electronics.

    Have you ever driven a car where the engine failed at speed? I have -- all that happens is the steering goes stiff and the car starts to slow down. You've got plenty of time to make your way out of the traffic lanes.

  • Re:Before deployment (Score:4, Informative)

    by aukset (889860) on Friday January 22, 2010 @10:31PM (#30866364) Journal

    Its called an ECG or EKG and it involves 3 to 4 stickers placed on the limbs, attached to wires that lead to a monitor, that measure the positive electical potential of the heart as it depolarizes to cause myocardial contraction. Pacemakers have a very distrinct "rhythm" on a heart monitor that is recognizable compared to any other heart rhythm. What it would look like in the case of an EMP disruption of pacemaker activity will depend on the reason for the insertion of the pacemaker.Most likely you would get a junctional or ventricular rhythm (bradycardic QRS with disassociated P waves at 20-60 QRS per minute). Except in the case of extremely fit athletes, a ventricular rate of less than 60 is very bad news for circulatory perfusion.

  • by shadowbearer (554144) on Friday January 22, 2010 @10:38PM (#30866402) Homepage Journal

      It's been a while, but IIRC the top speed of that particular model is around 145mph ;-)

      Mercedes are not known for being wimpy vehicles in the power department.


  • Re:Oudin coil (Score:5, Informative)

    by wagnerrp (1305589) on Friday January 22, 2010 @10:56PM (#30866502)

    Too expensive though; The price for that much copper would be astronomical.

    Nonsense. 1.5mi of high grade copper is as close as the nearest 1kft box of bulk CAT5.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 22, 2010 @10:57PM (#30866516)

    "If I can get a manual transmission in it then I could even start it."

    EMP isn't going to whack your lead-acid battery, which is useful to know if you are gonna play Mad Max.
    You can start your diesel, and your alternator isn't likely to be fried. If so, hunt up another alternator and devise a mount since Mercedes parts aren't common. :)

    The considerable number of people still running points ignition will also be mobile, and our gas engines can burn a variety of fuels.
    The (many) kickstart Harleys running points will be usable, not to mention older cars and trucks.

  • by JWSmythe (446288) <jwsmythe@jwsm[ ] ['yth' in gap]> on Friday January 22, 2010 @11:24PM (#30866620) Homepage Journal

        I've driven quite a few vehicles that had engine failures at speed. Steering works normally until you're down to single digit speeds. Brakes work while there's a vacuum, but even still you can stop without the vacuum assist.

        You obviously haven't driven a vehicle where the belt broke (no power steering) or it ran out of gas (no power steering or brakes).

        The last time this happened, the car overheated at 75mph (road debris blocked the radiator), so I drove most of the way to the nearest exit with the engine off. It wasn't a big deal until I had to turn at the bottom of an offramp, and didn't have power steering. And yes, it was a modern car.

  • by drinkypoo (153816) <> on Friday January 22, 2010 @11:49PM (#30866752) Homepage Journal

    You will never reach that speed anywhere but the salt flats. I have a 1982 300SD which is better in every way. They realistically top out just over 100. You can upgrade them with an intercooler and then you can turn up the turbo, but you're only going to make about 200 horses at best on MY engine (which is a more highly-tuned version of yours.) I don't know who told you that you could do 145 in that car, but they lied to you.

  • by Captain Chaos (13688) on Saturday January 23, 2010 @01:04AM (#30867184)

    I can second that, while it may not be the most pleasant driving experience, it is still possible to drive a vehicle after engine, power steering or computer failures. I luckily haven't had brakes fail, so I can't comment on that.

    My last car kept getting problems with the computer after the dealer screwed it up while working on my car. I had to have it replaced 3 times before they finally got it right. The first failure I was doing probably 70mph on the interstate when it went. I don't think it completely failed that time, since I was able to safely drive the backroads home. I had an all electronic dash though and lost all my instruments, so thankfully there was an exit just up ahead that I used, stopped to made a call to have a ride ready to go if needed, then drove it safely home. After the first replacement, I was over halfway home and doing about 55 when everything went out. I was able to safely pull over to the side of the road and stop, the brakes were fine, but the steering sucks since you get spoiled by the lack of effort needed with power steering. After that "fix", the car died as soon as I pulled out onto the road from the dealer and I was able to safely coast it up to a break in the median, do a U-turn and leave it dead at the bottom of their driveway so they could push it back into the shop.

    I also had an engine blow on the interstate while in a company van years ago and I think I probably safely made it close to a mile before stopping. I was able to safely change lanes, get to the exit ramp and get off, go across the overpass thanks to hitting the green light on the exit, turn onto a side street and pull over next to a gas station so I could call for a tow. The lane changes and turns really sucked with no power steering, but it isn't as bad when you know it is out. My dad had a belt break on an old Suburban in the middle of a right turn and he said that was quite a surprise when halfway through the turn he needed a lot more effort to turn the wheel.

  • by cbhacking (979169) <been_out_cruising-slashdot&yahoo,com> on Saturday January 23, 2010 @02:53AM (#30867566) Homepage Journal

    Who does this myth keep popping up? Have people honestly never tried turning a car with the engine off?

    The difficulty of turning depends on how fast the car is moving. Stopped, and without power steering, sure it's a bitch. On the other hand, you're stopped, so who cares? Rolling even a little makes turning (with no power assists at all) much easier. By the time you hat 15 MPH or so, it honestly is just as easy as with the power steering still active. At freeway or police-chase speeds, you're completely fine.

    The brakes will get stiffer, yes. This doesn't happen instantly (at least, not in my experience), so the first time you step on the brake it'll still respond pretty well. As the residual pressure fades it will get harder, but seriously, drivers got by for a long time without braking assist; you just have to press harder. The force you would apply anyhow in a "slam on the brakes" situation would be more than sufficient anyhow.

    Yeah, anti-lock brakes and airbags will probably stop working. Does this mean I've been driving an "uncontrollable hunk of metal" for the last 5 years? Hell no! Sure you lose some safety features (assuming your car ever had them installed to begin with; mine didn't) but all you need to bring the car to a safe stop is brakes and a steering wheel. Both of those still use mechanical linkages that operate just fine on muscle power.

  • by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Saturday January 23, 2010 @03:03AM (#30867610)
    It doesn't matter. You can encase the computer in a cage all you want, but you don't understand how this works. It does not fry the chip directly. What it does in induce a voltage (15kV and more was mentioned) in the wires attached to it. It still has to talk to the rest of the car, and those are the wires where the voltage is generated, and obviously those wires have to go through the cage.

    Having said that, I have 2 comments to make: (1) Any microwave energy that can generate 15kV per meter in a piece of wire is going to do some damage to a human body. (2) It is possible to filter the inputs of the computers with zener diodes and other such protective measures (as commonly used in CMOS chips to prevent damage from static electricity). Then this microwave stuff would cease to be an issue altogether.
  • by BLKMGK (34057) <morejunk4me&hotmail,com> on Saturday January 23, 2010 @03:48AM (#30867800) Homepage Journal

    Actually READ the linked article on On-Star before trying to summarize it please! On-Star doesn't "beam" a signal down from a satellite - it uses CELL PHONE technology. The only satellite involved in that scenario is the ones in the sky enabling the GPS. Unlike in some crap movies GPS is actually ONE-WAY and you're not beaming your location or anything else back UP. They're simply querying the GPS to find out the current location of the vehicle via cell phone - nothing else. CSI TV technology this ain't.

    Also - if you READ the article the signal sent to the On-Star simply tells it to not START the next time the thief tries to use it. It does NOT cripple the computer, it does not degrade the performance, it simply tells the computer not to restart. "Block the ignition on the next restart" is that NOT clear enough? REstart as in the NEXT time someone turns the key for a start. So if it's running this article doesn't say squat about turning it off remotely.

    On-Star has plenty of things going for it that I don't like and wouldn't want in my car - to include at one point the ability for law enforcement to remotely eavesdrop on you - so you really don't have to make up crazy things and lose credibility.

  • by supernova_hq (1014429) on Saturday January 23, 2010 @04:07AM (#30867860)
    I guarantee that even if you ARE awake and a car comes flying out of nowheres you will NOT have that seatbelt even half-way on before it's too late. Don't believe me? Ask a friend/family member to randomly yell out "seatbelt" sometime in the next week while driving with them and see how long it takes to get that seatbelt on from a non-prepared state (not sitting there holding the belt). More than 2 seconds and you were too slow.
  • by aXis100 (690904) on Saturday January 23, 2010 @12:59PM (#30870440)

    I think this article really refers to cars with engine management computers, as opposed to "points" substitutes.

    The simple transistor ignitions are pretty robust units with high current BJT components in metal cans. By their very nature you still need quite a large base current to switch them, and I doubt a HERF gun would do this.

    Bu comparison it would take much less energy to disrupt an engine management computer.

Stupidity, like virtue, is its own reward.