Pulse gun stops cars dead using smart radio frequency system

The future is here, one in which police can point a gun at a car and stop it using the wonders of science. In this case, the case of reality, that device uses radio pulses to stop the car’s engine: RF Safe-Stop is its name.

A British company, E2V, developed the Safe-Stop gun to confuse a vehicle's electronic systems, cutting the engine. The primary use is for military control of vehicles entering restricted areas, without the need for lethal force. The police are also interested.

Much like the system in Need for Speed Rivals the gun will kill a car's engine bringing it to a halt. Andy Holt, deputy chief constable of South Yorkshire Police, has evaluated the tech and said the machine had "potential, but it's very early days yet".

Describing a demo the BBC reported: “As the vehicle entered the range of the RF Safe-stop, its dashboard warning lights and dials behaved erratically, the engine stopped and the car rolled gently to a halt. Digital audio and video recording devices in the vehicle were also affected.”

Andy Wood, product manager for the machine, explained: “The RF [radio frequency] is pulsed from the unit just as it would be in radar, it couples into the wiring in the car and that disrupts and confuses the electronics in the car causing the engine to stall."

The device works with a range of up to 50 metres. We wonder if it can affect older cars with more basic electronic set-ups. Details, no doubt for this reason, were sparse. But: "Certainly if you took a 1960s Land Rover, there's a good chance you're not going to stop it," Wood said.

We thought stopping a car at high speed sounded a bit dangerous but as Holt points out: Tyre deflation devices used by some police forces pose the risk of causing serious injury if used against two-wheelers.”

The firm added that it did not believe the RF Safe-Stop posed any risk to people using a heart pacemaker.

So expect more police power, new weapons in car chase movies, and a brand new gadget for car-jackers to arrive soon.