An EU team has conceived safe ways of arresting a suspect moving vehicle using high-energy electromagnetic fields. It conducted safety tests in addition to examining relevant legal and ethical considerations. Police have various means of stopping vehicles when necessary, but most cause damage and involve some risk. Law enforcement agencies need a safer and simpler method.
The EU-funded SAVELEC (Safe control of non cooperative vehicles through electromagnetic means) project worked on developing such a method. It studied ways of deactivating a vehicle using electronic methods, including electromagnetic pulses (EMPs) and high-power microwaves (HPMs).
Project partners addressed certain remaining questions about its proposals, including safety, legal and ethical concerns. To achieve its aims, the project began by defining potential usage and seeking input from stakeholders on this point. The result was nine scenarios.
The team also defined high-level mission requirements, such as speed of and distance to target. Further considerations included commercial availability of components and their economic merits. Researchers also reviewed electromagnetic compatibility requirements relating to vehicles and identified vulnerable car systems.
SAVELEC disseminated its research through the project website and through a workshop on the topic. In parallel, the team established mechanisms for ethical compliance and set up an ethical advisory board.
Subsequent work involved driving simulator studies and obtaining approval for a volunteer test campaign. Using simulations, the team analysed the consequences of human exposure to EMP and HPM signals. Furthermore, the project assessed the risks of using such devices near explosive atmospheres.
All the research led to successful development and testing of a breadboard-level prototype for evaluation of the technology. A demonstration using a real car in a controlled track was performed to evaluate the technology in a real-life scenario.
If the work is commercialised, SAVELEC project findings are expected to yield three major impacts. The work will raise awareness among policymakers and produce a legal framework, demonstrate the value of the technology and demonstrate safety to citizens.