Electromagnetic Pulse Cannon Has The Attention Of The USAF (w/ Video)

Jan 21, 2010 by John Messina weblog
This shows a presumably older version of Eureka Aerospace's EMP car-stopper. Credit: PopSci

(PhysOrg.com) -- According to Flight International, a Canadian company will soon demo an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) cannon that is capable of stopping a car at a distance of 656 feet (200m).

The EMP will only work on cars that have on board computers. The disabling power relies on the car’s microprocessors and various other electronics that controls the engine.

Flight International found a Request For Information (RFI) by the US Air Force's Air Armament Center for a non-lethal weapon that can stop cars.

The RFI is seeking information that could lead to development of an air-delivered capability to disable moving ground vehicles while minimizing harm to occupants. The USAF is looking for responses that take advantage of existing infrastructure so that cost and development time can be kept to a minimum.

Eureka Aerospace, which is being funded by the US Marine Corps and the Office of the Secretary of Defense, will be demonstrating an improved version of its car stopper next month for the Marines at Dahlgren naval warfare center.

The device consists of a 1.2m-wide "flat screen-like" antenna weighting about 50-55lbs. With that aperture size, cars can be disabled up to 200m away by disrupting their electrical systems. One drawback to this system is that it can’t be used on mid 1970’s or older cars because they don’t have the necessary electronics.

This device can also prove to be a valuable weapon for law enforcement. High speed car chases occur every day and usually end up in fatalities of innocent people. By retrofitting this device to a police helicopter, chases can be greatly reduced.

This video is not supported by your browser at this time.
This video is a segment from Popular Science's The Future Of Security aired on The Science Channel.


Explore further: Nature's elegant and efficient vision systems can detect cancer

More information: www.eurekaaerospace.com/

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User comments : 34

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Feldagast
not rated yet Jan 21, 2010
What would this do to aircraft?
Adriab
not rated yet Jan 21, 2010
Depends on what kind of aircraft. In most cases it would disable it to various degrees.
Shootist
not rated yet Jan 21, 2010
"According to Flight International, a Canadian company will soon demo an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) cannon that is capable of stopping a car at a distance of 656 feet (200m)."

Guess we better all buy diesels.
Shootist
not rated yet Jan 21, 2010
What would this do to aircraft?


Knock it out of the sky from 200 meters away. Guess I'll fly at 300 meters, just to be sure.
otto1923
5 / 5 (1) Jan 21, 2010
Knock it out of the sky from 200 meters away. Guess I'll fly at 300 meters, just to be sure.
Wait for MkII. We are on the verge of a weapons revolution. As soon as a suitable portable power source can be developed we will see lasers, particle beams, and emp devices (and what else?) replace projectile weapons on the battlefield. And there will absolutely have to be actual battlefields to proof them on.
jselin
not rated yet Jan 21, 2010
Guess we better all buy diesels.


Modern diesels have ECUs too.

You'll want a carburetor
VOR
not rated yet Jan 21, 2010
I think many military vehicles/devices are already
EMP-proof. If that's true this would mainly have civilian application. It would be interesting to know how the military shields thier equiptment, and if that info might be used by some to make their cars resistant to EMP. Needing an EMP-proof car is a dreadful thing, since the main time that would be helpful is in a nuclear attack.
Phelankell
1 / 5 (1) Jan 21, 2010
What would this do to aircraft?

If you're within 656 feet of an aircraft one would assume you're either an occupant, on the runway between flights with, or crashing into it.

As an aside, when you kill the engine, you kill the vaccuum boosted brake system, the cars without vaccuum boost brakes have electronic brakes, which would also be killed by the pulse.
rgw
3 / 5 (2) Jan 21, 2010
"High speed car chases occur every day and USUALLY end up in fatalities of innocent people"
This is an insane statement and should not have been included in an otherwise interesting article. High speed chase fatalities occur, Not 'usually' not even 'often', but this EMP device can keep such traffic tragedies from occuring at all.
The EMP weapons can also end technological civilization without damaging buildings and without the immediate extermination of the human race (Other than those unlucky enough to be in high speed and/or high flying technology at the moment of EMP activation) After civilization is returned to the Islamic and Catholic ideal of 8th century Europe, life will again be ignorant, brutal, nasty and short for the 100 million who do not starve and/or freeze to death.
Parsec
not rated yet Jan 21, 2010
There are a lot of cars older than the mid 1970's on the road. Anyone who wished to bypass the disabling effects of this system would simply drive one of them. I am thinking car bombers and the like.
PheIankell
1 / 5 (2) Jan 21, 2010
To be honest this technology isn't even there yet, I'm sure the military mentioned this in emails but yet another cover up I suppose!
Phelankell
Jan 21, 2010
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
fourthrocker
1 / 5 (1) Jan 21, 2010
What are you people talking about? The article says nothing about disabling planes. Also buying a diesel will not help unless it is old, this thing disables IC's. If this thing could be adapted for air to air use it would only work on civilian planes, military hardware is hardened against emp damage. And then it might not make them crash unless the computers work the controls in a fly by wire system. Small planes with mechanical controls might have the engine stop at worst. Older planes would not be affected just like old cars and for the same reasons, no computer chips.

This is not to say that this weapons power could not be scaled up to kill less sensitive electrical equipment like the motor's coil. In which case it would affect even old cars.

What the article DOESN'T say is whether or not the effect is permanent or temporary.

My first thought was they have come up with something that has an effect that has been reported to be caused by UFO's which is interesting since we co
DGBEACH
5 / 5 (1) Jan 21, 2010
I think many military vehicles/devices are already
EMP-proof. If that's true this would mainly have civilian application. It would be interesting to know how the military shields thier equiptment, and if that info might be used by some to make their cars resistant to EMP. Needing an EMP-proof car is a dreadful thing, since the main time that would be helpful is in a nuclear attack.

To my knowledge, military vehicles in many countries are protected against EM pulses by devices called "transorbs" which are installed across all sensitive tracks of the on-board computer's printed circuit boards. A relic of the cold war era.
axemaster
not rated yet Jan 21, 2010
"What the article DOESN'T say is whether or not the effect is permanent or temporary."

The effect is generally permanent as a strong EMP causes physical damage to the electronics. If the EMP is weak, it might simply scramble the electronics which would require a restart.
DozerIAm
5 / 5 (1) Jan 21, 2010
Would not be pleasant if you were in a car being passed by the perp's vehicle getting EMP'd and your vehicle (or pacemaker, or insulin punp) also got affected.
otto1923
5 / 5 (1) Jan 21, 2010
The EMP weapons can also end technological civilization without damaging buildings
Unfortunately they are also inevitable and absolutely unavoidable. Tech which is uncounterable is the stuff you never hear about. The fact that this is being discussed openly means that the defense community is being prompted to develop protection. Civilian aircraft are indeed vulnerable to this and to portable lasers once lightweight batteries and generation systems become available; which are also inevitable and imminent. If something is inevitable it behooves one to develop it first and best.
deatopmg
not rated yet Jan 21, 2010
Guess we better all buy diesels.


Modern diesels have ECUs too.

You'll want a carburetor


not mine - all mechanical and I like it that way.
fossilator
not rated yet Jan 21, 2010
If the target vehicle had a passenger with a pacemaker or other electrical implant, what would would be the likely outcome?
Chef
5 / 5 (1) Jan 21, 2010
I wonder what kinda of penetration this would have on solid surfaces? I can see it now, a terrorist sets one of these up in a van with the antenna facing out one of the windows, and just drives around a city knocking out building after building.
malapropism
not rated yet Jan 21, 2010
Where it might also have an interesting use is in disabling electronic triggers for detected IEDs and terrorist devices that are triggered by cellphone or on electronic timers/detonators. 200m seems a reasonable safety distance. Even a temporary disablement in these situations would probably be very helpful.
Caliban
1.3 / 5 (3) Jan 21, 2010
Sadly, I have to agree with you, otto- once the tech(especially as a weapon) exists, it simply MUST be used. Probably wouldn't take much further engineering to make it work with similar result on human brain/nervous system, which would render most other applications completely redundant, anyway. This all begs the question as to whether we, as a species, are(morally) fit to survive.
PinkElephant
5 / 5 (2) Jan 21, 2010
It's easy to shield against EM: you put your sensitive electronics in a Faraday Cage, which is fancy jargon for "metal box". In other words, a seamless container made of highly conductive material. Even tin foil will do fine.

A Faraday Cage has the effect of canceling out within its enclosed volume any externally applied transient electric or magnetic field -- which is all an antenna can send your way.

So if you want to shield your car's motor (or computer) from such a weapon, all you have to do is wrap it in tin foil and go about your regular business...
otto1923
5 / 5 (1) Jan 21, 2010
This all begs the question as to whether we, as a species, are(morally) fit to survive
'We' in what form and at what stage? Humans are a species in transition from wild to domesticated. Indications are that this is not happening by itself. While war is inevitable, planned wars can be of almost incalculable benefit. What leaders wouldn't want to participate in them if the alternative were unrestricted and unpredictable ruination? These conclusions were reached 1000s of years ago, and the world you see today is the direct result of it. Relax, we are in the capable hands of a very few enlightened and committed individuals... Humans.
antialias
3 / 5 (1) Jan 22, 2010
As soon as a suitable portable power source can be developed we will see lasers, particle beams, and emp devices (and what else?) replace projectile weapons on thebattlefield.

Unlikely as energy based weapons are all line-of-sight (while projectiles are not necessarily so)

Small planes with mechanical controls might have the engine stop at worst.
Since the use would most likley be during takeoff/landing (when planes are less than 200m from the ground) this would be sufficient for disastrous results.
Would not be pleasant if you were in a car being passed by the perp's vehicle getting EMP'd and your vehicle (or pacemaker, or insulin punp) also got affected.

EMP can be directed. It's all up to choosing the correct antenna geometry. Pacemakers are pretty immune to this.
city knocking out building after building.

Not likely. These are generally one-shot weapons as they require huge amounts of energy and consequently long reload-times.
hylozoic
1 / 5 (1) Jan 22, 2010
Another 'Boom-Stick' for the apes with keys to cages? Not surprising...

For this discussion, what's our working definition of 'terrorist'?
NotAsleep
5 / 5 (1) Jan 22, 2010
National defense revolves around a system of priorities, with nuclear threat being #1. Part of this is defense against EMP pulses. You can be rest assured that all of our important assets in the country are EMP hardened, making this a bad choice for enemies to use as a weapon.

In fact, the number one crisis we face is through computer hacking. This can be (and has proven to be) the most devastating weapon our foes use.

Using the EMP pulse as a device to stop criminals makes sense, since most won't take the time to harden the car they're stealing against EMP blasts. Lazy criminals
Shootist
not rated yet Jan 23, 2010
It's easy to shield against EM: you put your sensitive electronics in a Faraday Cage, which is fancy jargon for "metal box". In other words, a seamless container made of highly conductive material. Even tin foil will do fine.

A Faraday Cage has the effect of canceling out within its enclosed volume any externally applied transient electric or magnetic field -- which is all an antenna can send your way.

So if you want to shield your car's motor (or computer) from such a weapon, all you have to do is wrap it in tin foil and go about your regular business...


Just make sure the cage is well grounded. All that energy has to go somewhere. You wouldn't want it becoming heat.
Shootist
not rated yet Jan 23, 2010
Unlikely as energy based weapons are all line-of-sight (while projectiles are not necessarily so)


And with the proper power source Gauss Guns (electro-magnetic slug throwers) become practical. And I guarantee those would have a range longer than 200m.

EMP can be directed. It's all up to choosing the correct antenna geometry. Pacemakers are pretty immune to this.


Which is why pacemaker wearers are cautioned about microwave ovens.
Fazer
not rated yet Jan 23, 2010
It's easy to shield against EM: you put your sensitive electronics in a Faraday Cage, which is fancy jargon for "metal box". In other words, a seamless container made of highly conductive material. Even tin foil will do fine.


Pink, I agree, but a car body is often a metal box. Perhaps you would need to ground the box, which would be difficult. Would dragging around a conductive tail on your car effectively ground it? Maybe a fine spray of water onto the road surface to help. Sounds like a lot of trouble.
PinkElephant
not rated yet Jan 23, 2010
@Fazer, Shootist,

Grounding wouldn't hurt of course, but is not really necessary.

First, there's no need to worry about the cage becoming too hot: after all, it's in contact with metallic components that can take the heat off it. Plus, the engine and everything around it is DESIGNED to withstand high temperatures.

More importantly, EMP is a *transient* event. Grounding is only helpful if you want to cancel out very large static electric fields. But for transient events, eddy currents within the cage itself will flow regardless of whether it's grounded or not.

As an example, a lot of the electronics in a typical cell phone design, resides within a Faraday Cage so as to protect it from RF interference coming from the phone's own antenna. This works just fine, yet the phone itself is, of course, not grounded in typical use.
otto1923
not rated yet Jan 23, 2010
Unlikely as energy based weapons are all line-of-sight (while projectiles are not necessarily so)
Ultimately... large drone-mounted beam weapons, emp missiles (already exist) But deep-penetrators still needed. Hard to say what form pulse energy weapons will take as opposed to chemistry... plasma-ignited pure fusion micro-weapons? Less stuff, more fluff-
TabulaMentis
not rated yet Jan 23, 2010
OK. SO how about a EMP buster? That way a person can know when they are being EMP'd so they can shield themself with a force field. Lets see, EMP verus the EMTbuster or the ANTI-EMP shield.
Dunts
not rated yet Jan 24, 2010
Faraday cage anyone?
TrustTheONE
1 / 5 (2) Jan 25, 2010
Wont it burn ever type of car? All cars are based on eletricity to work...

But it's irrelevant, cause just one 20kton nuke exploded in the right altitude could EMP all North America.