March 1, 2005

Microwave “gun” could end police chases

Pasadena, California – A system being developed by Eureka Aerospace in California may help stop criminals in their tracks and avoid police chases, its developers say.

James Tatoian, chief executive of Eureka, says the High Power Electromagnetic System is designed to disable cars, such as those fleeing police, using bursts of microwave energy.

“Since the 1970s, every car is built with some sort of microprocessor controlled system,” says Tatoian. “The ignition control and fuel pump control a lot of vital car systems. If you introduce a parasitic current into their wires, it leads to a power surge which in turn burns out those microprocessors.” Once the car’s chips are disabled, the vehicle will gradually slow to a halt.

Tatoian says the company’s experimental device isn’t the first or only system designed to attack cars. Other companies have developed similar concepts and prototypes; like Eureka, they are partially funded by a U.S. military research project that seeks to study the feasibility of “less than lethal” weapons. But Tatoian believes his designers and researchers have come further in terms of power, portability and usability than other solutions.

The device, still in development, weighs about 90 kg and fits inside a car, with its microwave antennae mounted on the roof. In tests, it produced enough power to burn out chips in cars up to 100 metres away.

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