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Transportation Crime

Police Use James-Bond-Style GPS Bullet 210

Posted by Soulskill
from the coordinated-assault dept.
mrspoonsi writes "The BBC reports that police in the U.S. are now using 'GPS bullets,' a device they can shoot at fleeing vehicles in order to track them. They're designed to make high-speed chases safer. The pursuing police car presses a button, a lid pops open, and a GPS bullet is fired which becomes attached to the fleeing car. The car can then be tracked from a distance in real-time without the need for a high-speed pursuit."
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Police Use James-Bond-Style GPS Bullet

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  • SO OLD NEWS (Score:5, Informative)

    by irving47 (73147) on Wednesday October 30, 2013 @01:16AM (#45277235) Homepage

    Not slashdot's fault... This is news from around 2009!

    http://www.guinnessworldrecords.com/records-7000/first-gps-projectile-tracking-device/

    • This is one of the trends in /. comments that I really don't like. When there's a new technology developed you get people saying that they don't care until it's actually being used. Then when we get stories about new technology being deployed it's "old news" because the technology has already been around. Calling other people wrong doesn't make you look smarter, it just makes you look like a prick.

  • ghost in the shell (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Sigvatr (1207234) on Wednesday October 30, 2013 @01:17AM (#45277237)
    ghost in the shell invented it first
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_James_Bond_gadgets [wikipedia.org]

      Actually, I don't think I see any sort of gps-bullet type tracking/homing device. There were a lot of tracking devices but none seem to involve shooting a bullet.

      I wonder if maybe Get Smart or some other series did the tracking bullet (before GITS).

      • by Enry (630)

        Wish I had mod points. James Bond did have a tracker in Goldfinger, but it had to be placed by hand. He never had a gun-fired GPS tracker in the movies or any of the books.

    • Try that with your Seburo!

    • Even earlier than that: The movie Kiss the Girls and Make Them Die" [wikipedia.org] (1966) had one.

      Not a bad movie for its time. The movie is a spoof of James Bond movies featuring a completely tricked-out Rolls Royce. (You can watch the trailer here [youtube.com].)

    • by tragedy (27079) on Wednesday October 30, 2013 @02:22AM (#45277449)

      If we're using fictional examples, Spiderman has been using tracking devices in the comics for 30-40 years now. They are fired from the web shooters and stick to targets. They don't use GPS, of course, they're more traditional tracking devices that emit a signal and have to be tracked by the signal. The point is that this idea is hardly new, but it's interesting that there's this real-world working example

      • If we're using fictional examples, Spiderman has been using tracking devices in the comics for 30-40 years now. They are fired from the web shooters and stick to targets. They don't use GPS, of course, they're more traditional tracking devices that emit a signal and have to be tracked by the signal.

        1) Spider-Tracers were NOT fired from his web shooters, they were thrown by hand.

        Not sure what signal they emitted, but it was only detectable via his "spider-sense".

        Note that I haven't read Spiderman in 30 ye

    • I came here to say EXACTLY this. WTF? I thought this was news for nerds dammit?!?!

    • You do realise that Ghost in the Shell is just a cartoon and isn't actually real, right?

      • You do realize he was objecting to the characterization of the tracking bullets as "James-Bond-Style", right?

        • by Richy_T (111409)

          Though of course, Ian Flemming based James Bond on a real living person, Al Gore.

        • by Darinbob (1142669)

          Yes, because everyone else who did it first obviously stole the idea from the later Ghost in the Shell.

  • Typical BBC bias (Score:2, Interesting)

    by DNS-and-BIND (461968)

    The StarChase system is a pursuit reduction technology that contains a miniature GPS module encased in a tracking projectile/tag and a launcher mounted on a police vehicle. It is neither a bullet nor a weapon as the BBC story claims. It doesn't use gunpowder, it uses compressed air. The word bullet does not appear anywhere on the company's website - except where another ignorant journalist has used it. [google.com.hk] You'd think the BBC would be better and more educated than the Des Moines, Iowa local news. You would

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Sorry, I don't see the bias. The article is calm, clear and balanced, and I don't see any attempts to mislead. The words "bullet" and "weapon" are used reasonably for the sake of easy comprehension and don't allude to anything sinister. The note about civil liberties issues is a passing quote from an expert and not in any way sensationalized.
      The contortions necessary to make it look like lies or scaremongering are all yours - I think you need to adjust your tinfoil hat.

      • People never see bias, if they agree with the bias.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Falconhell (1289630)

      Lol, when every US cop show has more shooting in the intro than an entire series of a comparable BBC show of much better quality, and you keep shooting each other at worlds highest rates, it seems spot on to me.

    • by AHuxley (892839)
      The US aspect of "raise some civil liberties issues" is well known over a few cases going back many years (say mid 1980's) DNS.
      http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2011/06/warrantless-gps-monitoring-scotus/ [wired.com]
      http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2010/08/gps-tracking-unconstitutional/ [wired.com]
      Its not bias, its just reality, the English language used to describe objects, actions, physics and past US legal history.
    • by Savage-Rabbit (308260) on Wednesday October 30, 2013 @03:00AM (#45277609)

      The StarChase system is a pursuit reduction technology that contains a miniature GPS module encased in a tracking projectile/tag and a launcher mounted on a police vehicle. It is neither a bullet nor a weapon as the BBC story claims. It doesn't use gunpowder, it uses compressed air. The word bullet does not appear anywhere on the company's website - except where another ignorant journalist has used it. [google.com.hk] You'd think the BBC would be better and more educated than the Des Moines, Iowa local news. You would also be incorrect in that assumption.

      You can argue that 'weapon' means 'tool used to achieve a goal' - but come on, this is the BBC we're talking about. You put the words "American police" and "bullet" together and quite naturally scare words like "weapon" come out. Look at the quote on the page: "There are other ways to track vehicles and this could raise some civil liberties issues." What does that even mean? Fleeing from the police, endangering the lives of everyone on the road and all the BBC can think of is how the criminal's rights might be violated...somehow. Unfortunately this mental rot extends throughout the entire organization and its journalists are simply no longer able to think straight. I doubt anyone even thought for a second about the bias. Sad, because once the BBC was a paragon of honesty. Look back at newsreels and 80s broadcasts and you will see a very different organization.

      There are guns that fire projectiles with compressed air and have been since at least the 18th century. This is the Star Chase system [nerdbeach.com], to me it looks like a compressed air gun and that fires a bullet like projectile so the BBC is essentially right. It seems to me that you are getting worked up over nothing because you don't like the BBC and have no made up 'EU wants circus performers to wear hard-hats' type story to get worked up over this morning.

    • by Inda (580031)
      The BBC technology website is not a place you go for facts.

      "Rory", the editor, is obsessed with Apple and I'm suprised there isn't a paragraph about how "cars can be tracked on an iPad".
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 30, 2013 @04:22AM (#45277921)

      If you read your own link, the StarChase website refers to it as a cannon ffs.

      I think we can forgive the BBC for toning it down to bullet from cannon shell.

    • Re:Typical BBC bias (Score:4, Informative)

      by Njovich (553857) on Wednesday October 30, 2013 @04:34AM (#45277969)

      Except of course when it's perfectly fine to describe this as a bullet, there is absolutely nothing in the word bullet that requires the existence of gunpowder. Hell, bullet just means small ball by origin.

    • by fatphil (181876)
      > It is neither a bullet [...] It doesn't use gunpowder, it uses compressed air.

      Bollocks - it is a projectile flung at force towards a target. You're not confusing the word "bullet" and "cartridge", are you? There's precisely no need for gunpowder or any other explosive to be involved in the flinging of bullets.
    • The BBC explained (Score:4, Interesting)

      by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Wednesday October 30, 2013 @08:01AM (#45278935) Journal

      The thing to remember about the BBC is that is the elite, who know they are the elite, getting an elite salary living in the elite section of London being quite ashamed about being elite, ridled with white guilt but not to the point of you know, hiring a "black" person. It is fun when you watch a show like "Have I got news for you" and you realize that 99% of the presentors and guests make more per episode then most Brits make in a year. "Deayton's salary was halved to £25,000 a show but the latest revelations forced Ms Heggessey's hand." http://www.theguardian.com/media/2002/oct/29/broadcasting.bbc6 [theguardian.com]

      That was ten years ago. HALVED TO, so it USED to be 50.000 pounds. Per episode. The series used to do two seasons per year of around a dozen episodes. And 50.000 pounds was his fee PER SHOW!

      Now I don't know the exact economics of the UK but I think it is fair to assume that for most people, 50k a YEAR would be a nice salary to have. This guy gets it for a couple hours "work". His co-hosts frequently portray themselves as either being "working class" or defender of the down-trodden but they get similar fees and have other jobs besides this show.

      Top Gear host Jeremy Clarkson made a joke about the UK soldiers who were captured by Iran that they made quite a nice salary "oh that is per year!?! never mind" he then quipped. It is funny but it shows the complete separation between normal people (the audience of the BBC) and its stars. What do these people, whether they host a popular entertainment program, a news show or the news itself about losing their job and not knowing how you are going to pay next weeks rent (and no, not knowing how you are going to pay the mortgage on your 3rd 5 million pound summer home is not the same thing).

      Or do you think Angus Deaton getting his salary halved from a mere 50k to 25k for an half hour show is on the same level as a pensioner having their benefits cut?

      The BBC used to be a rare mix of working class and oxford silver spoon people making TV if not together then at least in the same building. This has changed. The pay has gotten so good that even if they were working class when they started, they aren't after a few years. This has rotted the BBC to the point you can see it in their news service, they just don't get the working class, let alone the class without jobs anymore. They feel sorry for them but like a nobel who sends his butler with the remains of the turkey dinner to the orphanage. Watch some HIGNFY eps were there are working class union reps on. The hostility is palpatable, how dare these people who make less then 20k a year tells us what it is really about.

    • Everyone is flaming this poster for using "bias" but I think perhaps it's just a case of the wrong term. I think OP perhaps meant SENSATIONALISM. The "Beeb" and all news these days rely on sensationalism to jazz up stories.

      "Bullet" is more sensational than "tag", "projectile", etc. I want to read about a "GPS Bullet" story far more than a "GPS Tag" story!

  • I remember Bond sticking a tracking device in the trunk/boot of Goldfinger's car, as well as in the pocket of the one gangster who decides not to buy into Goldfinger's scheme (and ends up getting shot by OddJob, then crushed); and I remember him tracking the one Goodnight placed in the trunk of Scaramanga's car (where she also ended up). But I don't believe Bond ever fired one out of a gun - that's more of an American cop show gimmick.

  • by TubeSteak (669689) on Wednesday October 30, 2013 @02:02AM (#45277387) Journal

    What issues are those?
    A hot pursuit is the perfect situation to tag a vehicle with a GPS device and then back off.
    The social benefit of not chasing someone far outweighs the social cost of the transient tracking.

    • by EdIII (1114411) on Wednesday October 30, 2013 @02:36AM (#45277505)

      Not to mention one very important point....

      It's fired from a fucking cop car

      What on Earth is stealthy about that? It's compressed air but that does not mean you would not hear the thunk on your car. It's also on the outside of your damn car at a level that can be seen with the most inattentive of inspections. How long could it go unnoticed?

      There are no civil liberty issues here at all. It's abundantly clear that it's only viable during a high speed pursuit. Civil liberties my ass. If the cops are chasing us down without due process, and we have legitimate reasons to fear them following us, we are a hell of a lot more fucked. At that point civil liberties would be a luxury.

      • It's fired from a fucking cop car

        . . . which will probably itself be enough to cause the driver to crash.

        Despite what you might see on TV or in the movies, most folks get a little jumpy and freak out, when a copy hangs out the window of his car and fires a gun at you.

        I recall that there were similar problems when motorcycle cops started using hand held radar speed guns.

        • by cdrudge (68377)

          Despite what you might see on TV or in the movies, most folks get a little jumpy and freak out, when a copy hangs out the window of his car and fires a gun at you.

          Except there isn't a cop that hangs out the window to fire a gun at you with this device. The "gun" is mounted in the grill of the police vehicle. All the officer has to do is align themselves with the vehicle they are pursuing and press a button. The fleeing vehicle would have no idea they are being "targeted" until the thunk is heard.

      • by andydread (758754)
        so the perp hears the thunk on their car as the leave and once they are out of sight they simply stop the car and carjack someone with a different car to get away. putting them at risk.
        • by plover (150551)

          That takes rational, clear thought. A perp in a high speed chase is panicky and probably focused on "get away now" at the expense of everything else. He probably won't recognize the thunk on his trunk; if he does, and he analyzes it rationally, he'll probably realise car jacking is a more serious offense than what he was running from. The one thing this situation is not is "simple."

          We tend to give all criminals a lot of credit for being clever and ruthless, because that's what we see in movies. However, t

          • by X0563511 (793323)

            I have seen high speed chases where the driver was executing maneuvers in such a way... he/she clearly was not only in charge of all their faculties, but calm.

            Seriously - we're talking about multiple spin recoveries (after PIT maneuver attempts) in a row. Car started to spin, they spun into it and completely around and kept on going - didn't even veer off course.

            Eventually it was a mechanical failure that stopped the chase - one of the tires finally had enough and blew.

            • by cusco (717999)

              Actually, anyone who has done a lot of driving in northern Michigan in the winter will deal with a PIT maneuver without even thinking.

        • by khallow (566160)
          It also takes hearing the "thunk" in a high noise environment. And if another car is acquired, the process can be repeated.
    • "A hot pursuit is the perfect situation"

      That assumes that police will limit themselves to using these ONLY in such situations, it takes a 5 minute Google search to turn up case after case where police used laws/equipment far outside of their original intent. In this case assuming the price comes down and the use of them is not properly tracked officers could easily tag former girlfriends, enemies, & family members to track their whereabouts. Of course it is illegal, but that hasn't stopped officers fr

      • by X0563511 (793323)

        If they wanted to do such things it would be far easier for them to plant trackers surreptitiously - not fired noisily while tailgating the target.

  • by Inev (3059243) on Wednesday October 30, 2013 @02:12AM (#45277417)
    If this becomes popular, then so will GPS jammers for any who expect a need to make a getaway.
    • by AHuxley (892839)
      Re GPS and cell jammers:
      Guess the cops will have to buy into larger frequency hopping beacons that try a few different types of triangulation - gps, cell and other gov or private tracking networks.
      With that comes a larger battery too i.e. the bullet might have to grow to be a bigger beacon?
      In the end laws will be altered for a new car to have http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2013-10-28/big-brother-coming-your-car [zerohedge.com] with an encrypted ignition override.
      The cops will network into the car and stop it.
      Try and r
      • by EdIII (1114411)

        With Google's project and laws quickly coming on the books for automated transportation you're spot on.

        Forget freedom or privacy anymore. The cops will be jacked in to a transportation network that will tell them where your car is at all times. It's already about that easy with a cell phone. It won't be possible to not have it either. It's by far the most logical outcome since cars communicating with other cars can dramatically increase efficiency. Meaning less traffic during rush hours. Go just a little bi

      • by citizenr (871508) on Wednesday October 30, 2013 @02:50AM (#45277561) Homepage

        Dont know about US, but in Europe its pretty standard for a car thieve to use unlocked ECU to bypass any immobilizers\electronic keys.
        Long forgotten are the days of connecting wires under the steering column, now they just swap computer and car magically starts.

      • by Firethorn (177587)

        You're overthinking the issue. If they're jamming GPS that means they're transmitting. If you're transmitting all they need is equipment to track the jammer. They stop jamming and you go back to tracking the tracker, they jam you track the jammer.

        • I don't know how far one can track a GPS jamming signal, but the GPS signals themselves are very weak, so noising them out would not take very much signal.

    • by fatphil (181876)
      The problem is that jammers have, by design, a rather large RF footprint.
    • Wouldn't it be easier for the criminals to ditch the car once the police have backed off? Then they could steal another car and continue their escape untracked.

  • head in the sand? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Gravis Zero (934156) on Wednesday October 30, 2013 @02:51AM (#45277569)

    "GPS bullets that can track the location of a suspect's car"

    "There are other ways to track vehicles and this could raise some civil liberties issues" -- Dave Allen of Leeds University

    shh! nobody tell him about PRISM or his head might explode.

  • by moderators_are_w*nke (571920) on Wednesday October 30, 2013 @03:05AM (#45277621) Journal

    If your car is being GPS tracked, and the police aren't giving chase just park up and run off. Idelly push it down a hill empty so they don't notice it's stopped (because that's not dangerous at all). Let the police have their fun and GPS track an empty car.

  • What about the 60s TV show Batman and his Bat Tracer?
    Him and Robin were always pegging villians cars with those things.

    I don't remember James Bond doing that, but then again, I can't say I remember all the details of those movies, and I haven't seen any with the latest Bond, but still, the Batman TV show was from 66-68 and 120 episodes.
    (That show was really corny, but hey, I was only 6 when I watched it in reruns. I definitely didn't watch it when it was originally aired. Come to think of it, pretty much ev
  • by BeaverCleaver (673164) on Wednesday October 30, 2013 @03:58AM (#45277831)

    If you drive away with the tracker attached to your car, can the cops charge you with stealing it?

    • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

      If they attach it to your car and damage the paint work, and then you are later found innocent can you recover the cost of the repair from them?

      I have often wondered about this when the police raid people's houses. They smash the door in, take all your stuff and often damage or lose it. A couple of years later when you are found innocent you get back your laptop and it's battered, hard drive wiped (the UK police do wipe innocent people's drives for some reason) and tatty. What compensation is available?

    • by ledow (319597)

      Theft is "intention to permanently deprive". Thus, if you intend to do it, quite possibly. However there are issues of criminal damage on the part of the police if you are innocent (same as if they ram someone off the road but got the wrong car).

      Also, to answer another post, if the police kick in your door they have to make it good. Especially if you're innocent (yes, you could argue for the cost of it even if you were guilty but you'd have to have good reason, i.e. they didn't correctly call "Police", o

  • by carou (88501) on Wednesday October 30, 2013 @04:52AM (#45278037) Homepage Journal

    It costs $5,000 (£3,108) to install and each bullet costs $500 (£312).

    Apparently the exchange rate was updated while they were in the middle of writing that sentence.

  • HA! HA! (Score:4, Funny)

    by Guest316 (3014867) on Wednesday October 30, 2013 @06:46AM (#45278503)
    This is why I keep the back of my car coated in vaseline. Checkmate, Johnny Law!
  • Surely the criminals would pick up on this new technique very quickly? If its a stolen car (which I would assume most police chases are caused by), wouldn't the criminals just dump the car and flee on foot since there is no cops chasing right up behind them? I guess one could argue that its better that a car thief gets away and no one gets hurt rather than a car chase were innocent people might be injured or killed, but I don't see how this system would catch even close to the same amount of criminals as th
    • by PPH (736903)

      Suspect gets ahead of the cops, pulls over an unsticks this from his car. Then sticks it to a passing bus.

      Also, there's the 'chain of evidence' problem. The police lose contact with the vehicle/driver. Later, they might recover the vehicle. But who was driving?

      • by Valdrax (32670)

        Suspect gets ahead of the cops, pulls over an unsticks this from his car. Then sticks it to a passing bus.

        Good luck with that. It uses "industrial-grade adhesive" (whatever that means) and not magnets. Also, you rarely have high-speed chases in areas where buses can be reached out and touched without being noticed.

        Also, there's the 'chain of evidence' problem. The police lose contact with the vehicle/driver. Later, they might recover the vehicle. But who was driving?

        If they don't catch up to the car later with the driver still inside, then that's going to just be good old fashioned detective work. Only 32% of chases involve a stolen car, so finding out who the owner is will give you a pretty strong lead on who was driving, especially if the dash cam was runnin

    • by Valdrax (32670)

      If its a stolen car (which I would assume most police chases are caused by)...

      Nope, stolen cars are only about a third of ultimate reasons why people run [fbi.gov]: only 32% were driving a stolen car, 27% had a suspended driverâ(TM)s license, 27% just wanted to avoid arrest, and 21% were DUI. (Note that there is some overlap here, and that adds up to more than 100%).

      I guess one could argue that its better that a car thief gets away and no one gets hurt rather than a car chase were innocent people might be injured or killed, but I don't see how this system would catch even close to the same amount of criminals as the police catch today...

      There's an important need to balance public safety with law enforcement, as the article I linked above says. Roughly speaking, a person died every day from a high-speed chase in the time period studied (1994-1998), and 42%

  • hits and injures or kills a pedestrian, and a multi million $ suit follows, they will disappear.

    Imagine the questioning in court: "so officer, tell us how you aimed the projectile"
    "uh, you don't aim, you just point your car where you want the projectile to go"
    "would you consider that a safe way to operate your handgun?
    "no"

  • Inevitably the cause of unsafe conditions in a high speed chase is the run-away driver/suspect. Unless you start training the general population on high-speed driving techniques (and I'm not saying that is a bad idea) these bullets don't increase safety.

    • by chihowa (366380) *

      The idea here is to tag the vehicle and stop the "chase". One the cops back off the car, the run-away driver can stop driving like a lunatic. They were likely only driving at high speeds because they were being chased.

  • Fleeing robbers? In the movies maybe, but how often does that happen in real life? No, this is just another way to track common folks that they want to spy on. There are about a 500 million of those in the US right now.

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