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A new EU-funded project has demonstrated a prototype device that can control and stop non-cooperative vehicles posing a threat, by disrupting the functioning of the vehicle’s electronic components, both safely and at distance

The project, called SAVELEC (Safe control of non cooperative vehicles through electromagnetic means), includes also the analysis of possible land and maritime missions, with the device implemented on a ground, seaborne or airborne platform.

According to the European Commission’s Cordis announcement, the project’s prototype device was developed after testing signals (magnetic pulses and microwave), which interfered with key car components, forcing it to slow down and stop.

With the contribution of security forces as the ultimate end users, the researchers were able to simulate the technology’s use in realistic scenarios.

The project also looked at driver reactions to loss of vehicle control under six different scenarios including high speed, dense traffic and narrow roads.

The likelihood of petrol tank explosions from electromagnetic exposure or damage to airbags was evaluated. Additionally, three different electromagnetic exposure scenarios were assessed for the pedestrian/bystander, car driver and device operator to ascertain safety limits.

A core outcome of the project, with the help of the European security forces and an Independent Ethics Advisory Board, was a regulatory framework proposal within which this technology could function. The framework included compatibility with European legislation which ensures the safety of all those exposed to electromagnetism.

Progress must still be achieved on the miniaturisation of the different components, and in extending the device’s operational range (by increasing the power that can be generated). Also, different car models should be tested, as SAVELEC concentrated on only one.

The technology can easily be adapted to other vehicles such as fast vessels, trucks or motorbikes.

The project’s results have also contributed to improvements in other fields, such as the study of human exposure to electromagnetic fields and the development of better driving simulators.