After spending the last week with the hardworking officers of the Chicago Police Department, I've learned that there are few pleasures in life that can top the raucous joy of the high speed car chase. So I'm hoping this Wired News article is wrong -- that there is no technology that could render hot pursuits obsolete.
James Tatoian, chief executive of Eureka Aerospace in Pasadena, California, is developing a system that uses microwave energy to interfere with microchips inside cars. Once the chip is overloaded with excessive current, the car ceases to function, and will gradually decelerate on its own, he said."If you put approximately 10 or 15 kilovolts per meter on a target for a few seconds, you should be able to bring it to a halt," Tatoian said.Most cars built in the United States since 1982 have some type of on-board microprocessor. Today, the processors are advanced enough to control functions such as fuel injection and GPS equipment.Eureka Aerospace's High Power Electromagnetic System consists of a series of wires arranged in a 5-foot-by-4-foot rectangular array. The interference is emitted in a conical shape outward from the device.Tatoian said that while he is not the first to come up with the idea of using electromagnetic interference to stop cars, he has been able to reduce the size and power consumption of such a device so that it would be much more portable...Eureka Aerospace hopes to have a working prototype that the sheriff's department can test by late summer... Cmdr. Sid Heal, who evaluates technology for the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, said that after seeing a preliminary demonstration of the device last year, he was very enthusiastic about its prospects...In current situations where police need to disable a car they are pursuing, sometimes the officers must resort to spike strips, which are designed to puncture the vehicle's tires. Heal said that with an electromagnetic interference system, a potentially dangerous outcome (such as loss of control from flat tires) could be avoided."The beautiful part of using the (microwave) energy is that it leaves the suspect in control of the car," he said. "He can steer, he can brake, he just can't accelerate... It's going to change law enforcement tactics."Please God, no.