TV helicopter crews, your glory days may be numbered. Police in the car-chase capital of the world are getting set to stop fugitives in their tracks.
The Los Angeles Sheriff's Dept. has ordered a high-energy radio wave device developed by Eureka Aerospace in El Segundo, Calif. Troopers will be able to use it to scramble the digital brains -- computer chips that control fuel injection, engine firing, and other functions -- in most cars. With its engine shut down, the targeted car would roll to a stop.
The ray, which proved effective at a range of 160 feet in testing in early July, projects from an antenna that can be mounted on the roof of police cruisers. The company is developing beams that could either permanently fry the car's electronics or simply temporarily disrupt them.
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L.A. has averaged over two car chases a day in recent years, causing interminable traffic snarls and nearly 300 collisions. The zapper will probably go into production for Tinseltown cops after a prototype is finished at the end of this year, says James Tatoian, Eureka's chairman and CEO.