Video: Electromagnetic Pulse Gun Stops Cars Cold

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Picture it: a routine roadside stop goes sideways when the driver refuses to pull over, starting what would normally become a high-speed chase. But rather than endangering lives and chasing after at high speed, the police officer hits a button on the dash, causing a panel on the car's roof to emit a burst of energy and the fleeing car simply coasts to a stop. Sound like science fiction? Well it's not.

Or at least it won't be soon. Scientists at Eureka Aerospace have developed an electromagnetic pulse gun called the High Powered 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 fills an entire lab, but they have plans to shrink its size to hand-held proportions. There are, of course, some kinks to work out, such as how to ensure the car will still be able to stop safely--an increasingly valid concern with more widespread use of electric power steering units and the need for hydraulic brake assistance.

It's worth noting that GM already features similar capabilities on its 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.

Of course, criminals could always circumvent the HPEMS's effectiveness by opting for a pre-computing age car, though the number of affordable classics that are up to modern high-speed chase duty is surely dwindling.

Caveats aside, it's an interesting look at a still-nascent technology. Check out the video below for the quick-hit brief from Popular Science.

[Eureka Aerospace via Gizmodo]

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Comments (34)
  1. Finally a senible solution using high tech equipment to disable high tech vehicles.

  2. Cars are all designed differently. Some cars more vulnerable than others, due to how the electronics is designed and integrated into the vehicle, robustness of code, etc. Criminals could add shielding to the electronics if they are so determined. Waste of time and money. By the time they can get the pulse gun to fit into a vehicle and make it cost effective, vehicle electronics will also be more advanced and more immune to external interference.

  3. thats not how it works GT. The coding is irrelevant, the EMP system simply delivers a high intensity electric charge to the computers systems which are not strong enough to carry that charge and similar to a fuse, they melt. The car and computer are thus disconnected and it comes to a stop.
    In order to fully shield the car you would either need to
    A) Install a heavy thick lead shielding around the entire computer engine and controls making the car both obviously criminal and slower on the road or
    B) Rewire the entire car with extremly high power cables, the computer might not be able to work with such cables so you might need a new computer for your car etc etc etc, too expensive for such a system. It would be cheaper to just have a rocket launcher and destroy the police car.
    So this system will remain very effective at stopping all but the most sophesticated criminals

  4. Lead shielding? Derpa derk. Cars are not Superman and lead is a good conductor of electricity, so it wouldn't "shield" anything except from radiation. You read too many comic books.

    All anyone would need is to harden the circuits so that they can handle the current generated by the electrical discharge. The only reason car circuits can't handle the current right now is that there is no reason for them to, because systems like this video shows do not exist in the real world.

    The technology already exists to beat this car disabler. And by the way, if in the future police are able to get devices like this that can disable vehicles, what would stop criminals from getting them also? Protecting your car from this would be good for anyone.

  5. which is why microwave ovens have huge lead shielding...oh wait they dont.
    you need a simple faraday cage mesh which costs $300 or so to shield the car.

  6. Well, this is a double edged sword as far as I am concerned.
    If the technology falls in the wrong hands or criminals develop a more advanced car-stopper, it will be the police cars which are immobilised.

  7. I can see this technology being abused by the police just like tasers and other excessive forces

  8. It's a fake, you can hear the car's remote beep. They rigged the demonstration through the keyless entry or the car alarm. A real EMP blast would have disrupted the camera's video processor and would register as noise on the mic and would have caused the other unshielded devices to react too unless they were shielded in such a very very expensive way.

  9. Works for new cars but not older cars.

  10. they should just use it for stopping cop cars. then they could catch the real thugs

  11. This tool will work for modern cars with electronics, but older cars will not be affected by the EMP. They don't have electronics, they use only simple mechanics. Something like this will revive old cars for a new use.

  12. I cant wait to get a handgun sized one of these to use on dumbass drivers :)

  13. Let's hope the 'criminal' doesn't wear a pacemaker or other medical device.

  14. This is old, HERF guns or EMP guns have been in use for decades. The guy is a douche going on about how it's going to save lives. More likely it would endanger other motorists who are accidently hit by the pulse.

  15. Hope the manual came with a statement clarifying the fact that shooting that thing to a person with a pacemaker will probably kill it on the spot. And it will also fry any other car, computer, electronic device of any sort, in the line of effect.

  16. I love how at the end, he says that getting the chases off TV is more important to him than police and public being safe.

  17. This is all very well and good. BUT HOW IS THIS GOING TO HELP ME GET LAID??
    Oh yea - Fry her car and drag her home!! oh yeah!!
    P.s - I agree - this device will cause more harm than good. And will DEFINITELY be abused by the police.

  18. You didn't tell what else could be targetted by same device. Laptops, video crews cameras and all other electronic devices. It's much more useful device than just shutting cars down.
    When government want to control riots, they'll start by destroying cameras and cellphones.

  19. What would happen if the wrong person pointed it at an Aircraft...Helicopter....Train...?

  20. It's all fun and games until some widow sues the police department as the cops kill his pacemaker as it gets in the line of fire of one of these guns when he wasn't even the target.

  21. Rather easy to defeat with a small modicum of thought and application of RF filtering and bypassing and also what about the wrongful stops when a car that is not involved gets clobbered are the fuzz going to cough up to put things right i guess not

  22. Gosh, which nation do you live in? The way things are going in the US it won't be long before the government requires all cars built to have a secret government remote code which shuts them off, just as encryption systems on the Web are supposed to have an inner door for the fuzz.

  23. Sam, for starters the EMP pulse does not impart a 'charge' to the vehicle system unless you are hitting it with a bolt of lightning. As I said, all cars are different especially those that have not been designed yet. And vehicles today are being designed to be more and more immune to external EM fields. It's going to be totally unpredictable what an EMP system would affect. This is likely another just pet project for someone to get a taxpayer funded research grant.

  24. robustness of code has nothing to do with this, but technology level does, this EM wont stop an old car for example... beside of that, I'm thinking in which ways could this system be jammed... perhaps a plumb coverage over the sensitive parts?

  25. Yeah - new weapon will save lives... Looks like he's a fan of tesla too.

  26. so is this shit harmful to like pacemakers and artificial lungs and crap like that? and what if about air planes and shit. that could get dangerous. plus its gonna be hard to keep it out of the wrong hands

  27. Okay the driver has a pace maker and you just killed him by using an EMP gun. Who do his heirs sew and for how many millions. And the cars driving in the cacinity are damgaed also. I cannot see the budget of any city being big enough to use this device.


  29. Hey, it's just like Batman. We start using fully automatic weapons, they start using fully auto. We start wearing body armor, they start using body piercing bullets. Criminality always rise to the challenge of whatever cops or law enforcement seems to put out.

  30. If this gun really works, it could be mounted on a helicopter and only used if there is a chase going on. Anybody who runs from the cops is endangering innocent lives and if he has a pacemaker, damn, he/she shouldn't be running from the cops. Last year a high speed chase here in Oakland, CA resulted in a crash that killed two innocent people, and the perps got away.
    A well made device could be made to concentrate in a small area, aimed directly at the engine from the helicopter and probably wouldn't effect anybodies pacemaker anyway.
    This device could have applications in war as well. Stopping suicide bombers. Stopping cars at roadblocks who don't stop for whatever reason. Remember Iraq and how many people died when they didn't see the roadblock?

  31. haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa as if other countries wouldnt get the technology and not think about using it on the u.s. think again
    anything in the wrong hands is dangerous... a prime example is knowledge

  32. And how will they stop cars with carburetors and mechanical fuel pumps? Determined criminals will learn a way around these devices proving YET ANOTHER WASTE of taxpayer money, and a further insult to our 2nd Amendment rights guaranteeing our right to defend ourselves against possible government tyranny.

  33. If you look further into the designs, some are actually able to zero in on a particular EM frequency and, disable a specific device. No two cars will have exactly the same freq. to be disrupted. However, there may be spillover from device to device. IOW, if a particular portion of a pacemaker operates in the same spectrum as the portion of the vehicle being disabled, there would be problems. As modern versions are only in the beginning stages, expect many more versions which are honed to a closer to perfect standard. Watch for a Microwave version of same. As for microwave ovens, though they are in the MW spectrum, they are not powered up like the ones you see on Radio antennas (i.e.,red lightning bolt), which would fry us like eggs.

  34. Couldn't you just build a cheap little surge protector for the I/O's and supply of the car's computer and hook it in parallel with all of them? After all most all car computers are encased in a metal housing that is already grounded.

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