Police could use radio waves to bring cars to a halt
- 12 December 2013 by Paul Marks
- Magazine issue 2947. Subscribe and save
- For similar stories, visit the Cars and Motoring and Crime and Forensics Topic Guides
IMAGINE you could disable a car remotely just by pressing a button. It’s not a distant dream: devices that use radio waves to disrupt the control computers of modern cars are already in the pipeline. Police will be able to use them to halt suspect vehicles in their tracks.
At the request of police in France, Spain and Germany, a European Commission-funded consortium is developing such a device. Meanwhile, electronics firm E2V of Chelmsford, UK, is developing a similar system for both the police and the military, and successfully tested its technology last week.
Europe has given €4.3 million to the SAVELEC (Safe Control of Noncooperative Vehicles Through Electromagnetic Means) project. As part of this, engineers at the German Aerospace Center DLR in Stuttgart have pored over automotive Engine Control Units (ECUs) to identify vulnerabilities in microchips that can be exploited using radio signals. The electronics and portable antennas that will transmit those signals are being designed at IMST, a German radio antenna research lab in Kamp-Lintfort. At MBDA, the French missile maker based near Paris, staff are running simulations with large groups of volunteers drivers to gauge how they react when cars cut out at speed.
“We want to be able to stop the really powerful cars that we cannot stop with the tools police forces have today,” says Cécile Macé, a systems engineer at MBDA. “Really fast cars on the motorway are hard to stop in a safe way,” she notes. Police in Dallas, Texas, for instance, last year stopped using stingers –strips of tyre-shredding spikes – after five officers were killed attempting to deploy them.
Categories: Cyber Security