Top 10 police traffic technologies

21:57, Jun 22 2010

For years police have sought a safe and effective way to enforce the road rules.

With today's high-powered cars, it seems inevitable that some will simply put their foot down, because they know the police will call off the chase eventually, due to the danger it creates.

As technology steadily advances, we are seeing wave of high-tech police gadgets designed to bring dangerous drivers to a halt, or track their every move.

Plenty of research is going in this area as military groups and governments seek to give their law enforcement teams the best tools possible, and to reduce carnage on our roads.

Let's have a look at some of the new technology in the realm of police traffic enforcement, worldwide.

1. The speed camera... in space.

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British authorities are testing a system which uses a GPS satellite to measure the speed of a car, and report if they exceed the speed limit. The "SpeedSpike" system works by combining number plate reading technology on the ground with a satellite in space. Talk about big brother.

2. Intelligent Speed Assist

The Australian state of Victoria is trying out this system, which will be installed in the cars of repeat speed offenders. It uses mapping technology so it automatically knows how fast you should be going, whether you are in a 100kmh zone or a 50kmh zone, and uses both visual and audible prompts to warn the driver that they are breaking the law.

3. StarTraq

Northern Ireland has recently adopted a system which, instead of fining or otherwise punishing, offers offenders the opportunity to take a driving course. Of course, those who seriously exceed limits will still receive cold, hard fines.

4. HD speed cameras

These new generation speed cameras are able to catch a speeder at a range of up to one kilometre. By the time you make out that speck in the distance, it's too late.

5. The SCARAB police chase assistant

This fearsome-looking machine is still in the concept stage, but it could soon be a reality. It's towed behind a police car and after it's locked on to a vehicle will follow it relentlessly. It's very fast, and nimble enough to follow a car anywhere. This version is not equipped with weapons - but it could be.

6. Remote throttling

GM motors has taken steps to allow cars to be slowed down to a crawl by force. Many of their vehicles manufactured today can be remotely throttled in the case of a stolen vehicle or police chase.

7. StarChase GPS tracking

This is one straight out of Batman - the unit is mounted in the front grille of a police car, and fires a laser-guided GPS tracking unit, which sticks to the target vehicle, allowing it to be tracked. There's a cheesy, yet somehow quite cool, promo video here - the good part is at 3:15.

8. Automatic licence plate recognition

The ALPR system uses several cameras mounted on top of a police car to scan each number plate which comes in front of it automatically. Those numbers are almost instantly checked against a database to see whether the car is stolen, or if the owner is wanted. It looks forwards, sideways - for parking lots etc.

9. The Rumbler intersection clearing system

This technology works by enhancing the power of the police cars' sirens to include a low-frequency rumble, which is generated by two 10-inch woofers with a high power output. It follows the ups and downs of the siren, and really lets other vehicles know that the police need to get through - now.

10. Eureka car stopper

All cars have within them a set of circuits crucial to keeping the car running. The Eureka system uses and Electro Magnetic Pulse (EMP) to nuke a car's circuits and bring them to a halt. It is still in development, but is estimated to work on cars up to 200 metres away, and can be carried by a man.

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