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Old 06-27-2006, 02:52 PM
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Car taser to stop police chases?

Has anyone developed something similar to a Taser that could be used on cars to stop police chases? It seems almost an obvious idea, so I'm wondering if the product is out there but not used for some reason.
Tasers obviously work to stop people. They do it by sending an electrical jolt that disrupts your body so much that it can't work any more (plus it hurts like hell). So how about the same thing mounted on the grill of a police car? I'm thinking bigger Taser darts that either stick to the car with magnets or barbs and then send a brief electrical jolt that would fry the car's electrical system. Wouldn't that stop most cars immediately?
I've seen plenty of car chase video where the police cars were close enough, multiple times, to deploy such a device. I'm not saying it would work in every circumstance, of course.
Tasers have become so commonplace for use on perps, so I'm wondering why we don't see the same thing deployed on their cars.
Old 06-27-2006, 02:55 PM
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They have something kind of like that. I don't believe it's currently in practical production, but they've been experimenting with a portable EMP device for the past several years. Basically, it charges up a bank of large capacitors and then discharges them across a spark gap. The resulting EMP is supposed to burn out the electronic ignition in modern cars and bring it to a stop.
Old 06-27-2006, 02:59 PM
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Oh, and the problem with your idea, is that the darts or whatever can only make contact with the car's metal body--which would only serve to short-circuit the two of them together. Wouldn't do a thing to the electrical system.
Old 06-27-2006, 03:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Q.E.D.
Oh, and the problem with your idea, is that the darts or whatever can only make contact with the car's metal body--which would only serve to short-circuit the two of them together. Wouldn't do a thing to the electrical system.
Help me understand this. Why wouldn't the charge make its way to the electrical system? If you introduce a jolt to the metal body, the electrical system is untouched?
So if I put a Taser on my computer case and pull the trigger, nothing will happen to the computer? Doesn't sound like something to try.
Old 06-27-2006, 03:11 PM
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Yep, that's exactly what will happen: nothing. The metal body will conduct the current safely from one dart to the other. It's the same reason you're safe inside a (non-convertible) car if it's hit by lightning.
Old 06-27-2006, 03:24 PM
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A PC's case is normally earth-grounded through the power cord. It's also designed to contain the RF interference that's generated by high-speed digital circuits.

As such, if I had an expendable PC and a Taser, I'd be willing to try it.
Old 06-27-2006, 03:45 PM
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You can fry a portion of a vehicle's electrical system by sending excess voltage through a given circuit. The operational word here is circuit - you need to access both the power side and the ground side to have an effect. The "taser" described could access the ground side of most (not all) cars by touching the body*, but as has been pointed out, that doesn't do anything, and accessing the power side of any circuit would be essentially impossible.

_____

*And to do that it would have to go through paint on the vast majority of cars on the road today, unless it could hit an exposed metal piece (e.g. door handle) that is grounded to the body. Paint is not much of a conductor.
Old 06-27-2006, 03:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gary T
Paint is not much of a conductor.
If the voltage is high enough, it won't matter; it'll just arc right across the paint layer(s). Besides, it wouldn't be all that difficult to design a compressed-air-powered dart that could pierce right through the body. Not that it would work, anyway--just sayin'.
Old 06-27-2006, 04:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LemonPledge
Has anyone developed something similar to a Taser that could be used on cars to stop police chases?
Yes, it has been developed. I've seen footage of the system on a news program (like 60 minutes, not standard news). Can't remember the details of the show, it's been a couple of years.

This system didn't shoot out darts. Instead, the chasing police car would shoot out a system that basically was on a controlled skateboard-kind of thing. A small propellant to make it shoot out fast enough to get under the car being chased. (The device remained tethered to the police car.)

It would then hit the underside of the car with a large electrical system and the car would lose all electronics and come to a stop. Wasn't effective in older cars, but worked like a charm on newer models where so much of the car is dependent on a computer to keep things going.

Was still a prototype, but I remember there being issues with how difficult it was to get the thing to slide under the fleeing car effectively, etc. Also if the car was shut off and lost control and crashed into someone else, were the police then responsible, etc. Not that the idea was being scrapped, just still being worked on. Haven't heard anything about it since.
Old 06-27-2006, 05:15 PM
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Forget electrified barbs, how about just a big harpoon?
Old 06-27-2006, 05:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Q.E.D.
They have something kind of like that. I don't believe it's currently in practical production, but they've been experimenting with a portable EMP device for the past several years. Basically, it charges up a bank of large capacitors and then discharges them across a spark gap. The resulting EMP is supposed to burn out the electronic ignition in modern cars and bring it to a stop.
But such an EMP would also burn out all cars in range, including the police vehicle, any other vehicles on the road, computers, stereos, TVs, & phones in all the houses along the road, nearby traffic signal controllers, any nearby cell phone towers, etc.

The damage that the taxpayers would have to cover every time it was used would be considerable!

Much cheaper to just ram the fleeing car with a police car and run them off the road. That's done fairly commonly now, when needed.
Old 06-27-2006, 05:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by [email protected]
But such an EMP would also burn out all cars in range, including the police vehicle, any other vehicles on the road, computers, stereos, TVs, & phones in all the houses along the road, nearby traffic signal controllers, any nearby cell phone towers, etc.
No, it would not--and in fact, does not, in testing. The inverse square law sees to that.
Old 06-27-2006, 08:38 PM
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I saw some footage of a device such as Q.E.D. has described several years ago. My recollection was that it was basically a directed microwave device, and could be aimed in a general sort of way. They didn't go into the specifics of the device's construction, but said that almost any microwave oven had most of what was necessary to build one. I seem to recall that it was being studied by the Army, but it's main weakness (from the military's standpoint) was that it would be relatively easy to shield a vehicle's electronics against this as a weapon.
Old 06-27-2006, 08:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LemonPledge
I've seen plenty of car chase video where the police cars were close enough, multiple times, to deploy such a device. I'm not saying it would work in every circumstance, of course.
Tasers have become so commonplace for use on perps, so I'm wondering why we don't see the same thing deployed on their cars.
There are recent developments in the use of shooting an adhesive GPS device to stick it on the rear of a fleeing auto so that it can be followed, corralled, and taken off the road. The driver is then escorted to jail. No more chopper TV News persuits in LA!
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