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European scientists say device could let police remotely halt vehicles

Dec. 12, 2013 at 8:51 PM   |   Comments

BRUSSELS, Dec. 12 (UPI) -- European researchers are reportedly working on a device to allow police to use radio waves to disrupt the computers of a suspect car and bring it to a halt.

A European Commission-funded consortium, at the request of law enforcement entities in France, Spain and Germany, are developing the device and have been examining automotive Engine Control Units to identify vulnerabilities in the microchips that can be exploited using radio signals, NewScientist.com reported Thursday.

A British electronics firm working on a similar system for both the police and the military successfully tested its technology last week, it said.

"We want to be able to stop the really powerful cars that we cannot stop with the tools police forces have today," said Cecile Mace, a systems engineer at French technology firm MBDA, one of the companies working on the $5.9 million EU-funded project.

"Really fast cars on the motorway are hard to stop in a safe way," she said.

The new device would not damage the car's electronics but temporarily disable them, the researchers said.

"We want to disturb the car's electronics so we can stop it, but we don't want to break the car and leave it stuck on the motorway," Mace said. "And we don't want to harm the occupants, nearby pedestrians or the police with the beam either."

A prototype system could be ready by 2016, the researchers said.

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