The company E2V has developed a prototype device that uses a radio-frequency pulse to shut down a car’s engine at range, according to a report from the BBC. While the range of the device is fairly short, it worked on a handful of cars and motorbikes and could also potentially be used on boats.
The product, named the RF Safe-stop, works by sending an RF pulse to a car at up to 50 meters (164 feet) away. The pulse “confuses” the car’s electronic systems, which the BBC said made the “dashboard warning lights and dial [behave] erratically.” The engine then stalls, and the car comes to a stop. How safely and quickly the vehicle would stop depends on the vehicle, and this technique would not work on older vehicles.
Engineer Magazine suggests the RF Safe-stop could be used for stopping vehicles that are suspected of being car bombs. Likewise, the Safe-stop could cut police chases short or be installed in a fixed area to prevent cars from entering. The Association of Chief Police Officers, speaking to the BBC, said that it would be a safer alternative to stopping two-wheeled vehicles than shooting out their tires. E2V does not specify how narrowly the Safe-stop can be targeted.