Feeds

Cig-lighter electropulse cannons offered to US plods

Cold dead turkey strangely incapable of flight

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

Electromagnetic weapons designed to zap circuitry have long been a favourite speculation of war-tech buffs. Consensus opinion suggests that the only energy source capable of powering a useful pulse strike is a nuclear explosion, or perhaps in the near future a largish conventional bomb. But a recent report in MIT Tech Review suggests that actually it can be done with a car alternator.

The Tech Review piece introduces us to Eureka Aerospace and its High power Electromagnetic System (HPEMS) tech, now being touted as a good idea for police in high speed chases. Apparently, a 200lb, six by three foot HPEMS module can "be attached to an automobile or aircraft carrier" (though the aircraft-carrier option might be a tad unwieldy on the freeway). It works like this:

The car's alternator serves as the system's power source [cool! You just plug it into the cigarette lighter socket, presumably]... pulses are amplified to 640 kilovolts using a 16-stage Marx generator... then converted into microwaves using... a pair of coupled transmission lines and several spark-gap switches. Finally, a specially designed antenna beams the microwave energy toward an opposing vehicle...

The microwaves get into the fleeing villains' engine compartment through some kind of unspecified gap in the metal that would typically surround it, and zap all the microcircuitry, so shutting the motor down.

Tech Review notes that this might cause some snags by frying innocent people's stuff in a crowded urban environment, but otherwise it seems to assume that the idea is a flyer.

In fact, all the signs of a tech turkey are there. The obvious customer - the US military* - funded initial research and then gave up some time ago. Even the company doesn't claim effective range greater than 15 metres, so a pursuing cop would have to get well inside safe stopping distance behind a fleeing car - just before forcing it to stop suddenly. All tests thus far have been on stationary target vehicles. The only way of aiming the directional beam is by aiming the car. Years have gone by and nothing much has changed.

Nope - this thing's a gobbler, and a cold dead one at that. The MIT tech scribes seem to have slipped up here. ®

*A mysterious outfit called the "U.S. Marine Corp [sic]" is referred to twice.

The Power of One Infographic

More from The Register

next story
World Solar Challenge contender claims new speed record
One charge sees Sunswift travel 500kms at over 100 km/h
SMELL YOU LATER, LOSERS – Dumbo tells rats, dogs... humans
Junk in the trunk? That's what people have
The Sun took a day off last week and made NO sunspots
Someone needs to get that lazy star cooking again before things get cold around here
Boffins discuss AI space program at hush-hush IARPA confab
IBM, MIT, plenty of others invited to fill Uncle Sam's spy toolchest, but where's Google?
Bad back? Show some spine and stop popping paracetamol
Study finds common pain-killer doesn't reduce pain or shorten recovery
Forty-five years ago: FOOTPRINTS FOUND ON MOON
NASA won't be back any time soon, sadly
Jurassic squawk: Dinos were Earth's early FEATHERED friends
Boffins research: Ancient dinos may all have had 'potential' fluff
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.