A new radio-beam device has been unveiled that can disable car and boat engines from up to 50 meters away in under three seconds and can be operated from a mobile platform or at a fixed location.
Devices capable of remotely disabling electronics are nothing new, given that devices capable of remotely disabling phones, intercepting communications and tracking targets have been around for years.
However, this is one of the first publicly unveiled devices capable of remotely disabling a wide range of vehicle engines.
The device, dubbed RF Safe-Stop, produced by e2v, weighs around 771 pounds and is reportedly aimed at stopping vehicles suspected of being used as car bombs, according to The Engineer.
RF Safe-Stop was first shown at DSEI 2013, dubbed “the world leading defense and security event” in September.
The device typically causes engines to shut down in less than one second, without destroying the target engine.
The company maintains that their “extensive testing and signal conditioning” ensure that the RF field emitted by the device is within international guidelines and is human-safe.
So far, the unit has been tested on a Nissan Nevara and Toyota Land Cruiser, but Andy Wood, product manager for e2v, told The Engineer that it can also be used on a variety of other platforms.
It can be fitted into fixed-base installations, rib-type boats and there are plans to integrate it into a helicopter, The Engineer reports.
RF Safe-Stop works by generate powerful radio frequency pulses which “confuse” a vehicle’s electronics and make them temporarily inoperable, according to Wood.
“Basically the ECU (engine control unit) or immobilizer…once affected, will try and reset,” Wood said. “As long as you keep it ‘confused’ the engine won’t restart.”
The system is designed to be able to be used many times without running out of power and does not require any special training to use.
The company is “aiming for a system that that allows the user to do nothing more complicated than push a red button when the target is in range,” according to The Engineer.
So far, 17 countries and five government bodies in the United Kingdom have already expressed interest in the system.
Wood said that orders for the system will probably be taken in the coming weeks and that their system can be tailored for the requirements of the particular agency that is placing the order.
One must wonder how safe this would really be, especially on a car like a Prius that contains sensitive electronics systems that control everything the car does.
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