Safe-Stop To Cut Motorcycle Engines with Radio Frequency Pulse

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Safe-Stop To Cut Motorcycle Engines with Radio Frequency Pulse

European police forces are currently evaluating a new prototype technology that can bring cars and motorcycles to a halt by using electromagnetic waves to confuse the vehicle’s electronic systems.

British company E2V is one of several companies currently looking to launch the technology in the near future. E2V’s RF Safe-Stop has recently demonstrated its capabilities to British police officers and members of the media showing how both cars and motorcycles can be brought safely to a stop.

Currently, Safe-Stop’s primary use would be for military use to defend locations from vehicles that are considered potential threats. Safe-Stop would immobilize the vehicle forcing it to a halt.

Safe-Stop works by sending a pulse of radio frequency waves, much like those used in radar, to a moving vehicle’s engine management system, effectively confusing and disrupting the vehicle’s electronics, making the engine stall. However, to be effective Safe-Stop has to remain focused on the moving vehicle otherwise it can be restarted, and that may be a fly in the ointment. On the positive side, Safe-Stop has been proven to be effective up to 160 feet away from its moving target.

British police forces have shown interest but admit that it is still early days, as further development work is needed and a series of rigorous trials must be undertaken before police officers would ever consider using it in the field. Safe-Stop would also require a dedicated police vehicle to carry the equipment which weights 350 lbs.

However, those officers, who have seen the system in action felt that Safe-Stop could be used effectively against motorcycles. Currently tire deflation devices are used for stopping cars but are considered too dangerous to use to stop bikes.

Lastly, a critical drawback to the Safe-Stop system is that it only works on modern cars and motorcycles with sophisticated electronic systems. Any motorcycle that doesn’t have an ECU (engine control unit) will not be affected. That’s a loophole you can drive a truck through, perhaps literally…

  • grindz145

    Don’t get in the way of that thing. That much RF energy will do some pretty serious harm to humans. Insert obligatory comment about points ignition here.

    • Justin McClintock

      As I’m reading it, I’m thinking, “Aren’t alot of those bases they’re trying to defend in places like Afghanistan and Iraq? Don’t they have some REALLY OLD vehicles there?”

  • Frick

    seems dangerous to just shut down someones bike, especially at highway speeds…..

    • Glenn Rueger

      I’ll say! Especially if you’re not the rider they are trying to stop.

    • Piglet2010

      Not an issue in a police state, if a rider gets injured or killed as a secondary effect.

      • Mr.Paynter

        We had a rather suspicious tale of a rider shot off his motorcycle at high speed “for posing unacceptable risks to other road users” and he then slid in to and killed the shooting officer.

        The story was very quickly covered up with most local news agencies running stories of said biker “losing control” and hitting and killing a police officer and dying at the scene, no mention of the offending bullet at all and most decidedly painting the biker as the villain for speeding and killing a police officer.

        • CruisingTroll

          Where and when?

    • eddi

      At least a bike’s steering and brakes don’t disappear when the engine dies. I know this is intended for stopping speeders and drunks without danger, but so far the police have shown great ingenuity in making non-lethal weapons kill people. The first stalled car to go off the mountain road at 80MPH can’t be far away.

      • Justin McClintock

        Good point. Electric power steering anyone? Or BMW’s brakes where the brake pedal is in no way mechanically linked to the brakes themselves? You hit a new BMW with that, and the driver is along for the ride until it comes to a stop, wherever that may be.

        • Ben Mcghie

          If you CUT a bike’s engine at speed that’s a recipe for a spill really quick. Unless the rider is really, really fast to clutch you’ll have the rear locked momentarily. Depending on your engine’s compression and configuration, it might turn over and let the rear roll, but more likely the rear will slide.

          If you’re already racing from the cops, I would bet this device would wind up killing the rider most of the time. Eeek.

  • maxkohl

    Put a good Faraday Cage around the ECU. This thing will be rendered useless.

    • runnermatt

      Faraway cages work best when designed for specfic frequencies. The size of the holes in the mesh determines which frequencies are blocked. Additionally you would need to sheild at least some of the harness, probably not the wires to the lights but definitely any wire that carries a signal, i.e. fuel injector wires or any sensor wires.

  • dinoSnake

    Hmm, so science fiction becomes science reality, again (if they can get it to work)? Technically interesting yet a bit frightening at the same time.

  • Blu E Milew
    • Kr Tong

      god rest his soul.

  • Mike

    Not that I would advocate running from the police, but if a cop car can get to within 160 feet of your bike (and stay there) then you are probably on a scooter. Great for cars though!

  • Kr Tong

    Im pretty sure if terrorists were concernd about this they’d just use old stick shift carburetted cars without ECU’s.

    • Adam

      Ha, once the police have the technology owning such a vehicle would be considered suspicious activity.

  • ThinkingInImages

    There’s something not quite right with this idea. If you cut the engine on a car you lose the power steering and brakes. On a motorcycle this could be very dangerous. It would cause a sudden bit of engine braking and upset handling.

    Under the right circumstance it could be a useful tool, though.

    • David Magallon

      I don’t think that bit about cars’ power brakes and steering is accurate. Power brakes work on vacuum, which wouldn’t be impacted if the car is moving and the engine is kept in gear. It would only become an issue at low speed. Power steering is also engine driven, so as long as the engine isn’t stalled, steering is still assisted until the point where the car is almost stopped.

      • drivin98

        You have never been in a car that’s stalled at speed, I take it. Hydraulic or not, power assist goes away.

        Also, today’s vehicles increasingly use electric steering and braking assist.

        • David Magallon

          “So as long as the engine isn’t stalled” If a car is moving and in gear, the engine won’t stall, as in it won’t lose it’s revs since it’s mechanically driven by the moving wheels. We’re talking about runaway cars at high speed here.

          I don’t know of any electric brake boosting. Electric/emergency brake assist (EBA) aids in emergencies by applying full force to the brakes during detected panic braking. It does not replace the function of a brake booster. As for brake by wire, there’s failsafes that prevent the pedal from not actuating brakes.

          I’m not sure how electric power steering is implemented, there’s certainly no standard across the board. Within the context of runaway cars, power steering is only most needed at low speed when wheels need to turn more than just a couple degrees to change direction. At speed, I really don’t see this being an issue, certainly no more than a runaway car already is.

      • Justin McClintock

        Most new cars have electrically driven, not vacuum driven, power steering. In addition, some cars are moving to a complete brake-by-wire braking system (BMW in particular). You hit a new BMW with this kind of technology and you will lose both the brakes and the power steering. And not just the vacuum assist on the brakes (since it doesn’t have it), you’ll actually lose the entire braking system. Essentially, the driver will become a passenger until the beam is redirected or the vehicle comes to a stop.

        • Jonathan Berndt

          … then dont be an idiot and try to out run the police.

          • kentaro

            You seem eerily content with giving the government the power to kill you.

            • stever

              pretty sure government has had that since government was the biggest ogre in the cave

              still, i’d take the police over the pinkertons

        • protomech

          Power-assisted steering is either assisted with a hydraulic pump or an electric motor. Depending on the effects of the EM radiation, you could lose power steering (more likely with electric motor assist).

          Power-assisted braking is assisted by a vacuum from a reservoir. The vacuum is either maintained by an electric pump (hybrids and diesels) or by engine compression (most gas cars). However, even if the engine or electric pump cuts off, the vacuum reservoir (per FMVSS) retains enough assist for a limited period of braking. If you don’t have brake-by-wire

          I don’t know anything about BMW’s brake-by-wire systems. Often these will have a mechanical fallback. If not, then you’d be SOL if the control system malfunctioned.

          • Justin McClintock

            There is no mechanical connection whatsoever between the brake pedal and the brakes themselves in the new BMWs. Personally, I can’t believe that system is even allowed on the road. I know I’ll never buy a car like that.

    • Adam

      They also have to get a particular police cruiser with 350 pounds of extra gear within 160 feet. And have line of site/be in front less they disable their own guys.

      • Ben Mcghie


    • IAmAConservativeICannotBeWrong

      wow, “it could be very dangerous” like speeding and eluding the police

  • Mykola

    Time to learn DIY electronics shielding

    • eddi

      Guess what? Aluminum foil. It’s not just for hats anymore. Ground to the frame and scoot away.

  • Kirby

    Sounds like it is time to get the Red Barchetta out!

  • Zanpa

    Safely? How is it safe to turn off the engine of a speeding car or motorcycle?
    (The answer is that it is not. It is very dangerous.)

  • Lee Scuppers

    In the grim, dyspopalyptic future of Europe, the only people free to move around will be annoying hipsters on old cafe-mutilated Hondas with points ignition.

    And superannuated Teutons on R/50s.

    I don’t think I can bear to go on.

  • Scheffy

    Anybody that played NFS: Hot Pursuit knew this day would come.

  • Jim Hollinrake

    Nobody has mentioned the fact that the rear wheel would probably immediately lock up and make things pretty dangerous for anyone near the targeted bike. NTM detonation from uncombusted gas building up in the cylinders, etc.

    • James Jamerson

      As someone who has accidentally hit the power switch on the highway it causes a bit of engine-braking and it is very disconcerting, but it won’t lock up any wheels.

  • Sentinel

    Gee, I always wanted to live in a Police State…