back to article Eurocops want to build remote car-stopper, shared sensor network

Civil liberties monitoring group Statewatch has uncovered a document sent from the General Secretariat of the European Council to the Standing Committee on operational cooperation on internal security that suggests European law enforcement agencies develop technology that would allow them to stop any car using wireless networks …

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  1. tony

    Fault

    I wonder who will be held to account the first time a family on a day trip to the seaside is stopped in front of ~70mph traffic by either a fault in the system or false plates on a fleeing car miles away?

    1. LarsG

      Bad enough that our every move is monitored with our mobile phones, now they want every car to be at their whim?

      Who will be to blame if it kills someone, or is that considered acceptable collateral damage?

      I bet there will be mission creep in this one, a few years down the line bailiffs and the councils will get access to using it.

      WiFi jammer anyone?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Wifi? No way

        Wifi is unlikely to be involved mate! The most likely technology to stop cars at a distance is to shoot a massive electromagnetic pulse at them that fries all electronics on board - which unless you drive a trabant will shut off the engine,

        As was reported late last year - I am sure El Reg mentioned it as well - but here is the BBC link http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-25197786

        1. tony
          Happy

          Re: Wifi? No way

          "Wifi is unlikely to be involved mate!"

          I'm not sure what technology would need to be built in a car to stop it by electromagnetic pulse that isn't in all cars manufactured since the Trabant..ish. Which is what the EU legislation is waffling on about building into all cars sold in the European market.

          "Control, In pursuit of Tango Oscar Six Niner Echo Romeo Lima send stop signal,over"

          "Rodger, sending signal now, over"

          "Bingo Bongo"

        2. boltar Silver badge

          Re: Wifi? No way

          "The most likely technology to stop cars at a distance is to shoot a massive electromagnetic pulse at them that fries all electronics on board - which unless you drive a trabant will shut off the engine,"

          The *teensy* problem with that is unless you can focus a very tight beam on a fast moving car you're going to kill all the other cars nearby. Plus smart crims will simply shield any critical electronics in a faraday cage and if you think they're too stupid remember they've already managed to hack a number of makes including BMW via the OBD2 port.

          1. Tom 260

            Re: Wifi? No way

            The other *teensy* problem is making it so that it fries car electronics behind a few sheets of metal, without frying someone's pacemaker.

            A car-taser perhaps, if the Faraday effect works in that situation to protect the flesh-bags while the delivered current fries any grounded (to the chassis/body) electrical systems? You'd have to be sure to hit something metal on the back or side of the car though, not the lights or plastic bumper (or 4x4's spare wheel). Perhaps some variant of the Finnish car harpoon ( http://www.autoblog.com/2009/10/27/video-finnish-him-nordic-authorities-harpoon-chase-ender-amaz/ ) that contains batteries/capacitors - instead of tear gas! - and doesn't remain attached to the car that fires it, that should penetrate through to the chassis (or the bloke tied up in the boot).

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Fault

      I understand the proposal is to manufacture vehicles with an 'off switch'. Just like you can block you phone remotely.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Fault

      Yes what could possibly go wrong ?

      Imagine the fun hackers could have.

      Me ?

      I'm going to buy an old Morris minor with absolutely no electronics.

      1. Robert Grant

        Re: Fault

        Yeah this could be a nice easy way to suddenly leave victims who were safe at 70mph with no means of escape.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Great Idea

      Someone's doing 100mph+ on a busy motorway so shut his engine down.

      His electric power steering pump shuts down too, it's going to be fun tying to avoid that bus full of nuns with super-heavy steering.

      Perhaps limiting engine rpm to 2000 would be abit safer, still in control but limited to a snails pace.

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: Great Idea

        Many cars with electronic engine control already have a "crawl home" mode. 30mph limit, limited revs, generic timing etc.

      2. mark jacobs

        Re: Great Idea

        2000 rpm on my Zafira in 6th gear would have me travelling at 80mph! No, this is like all the subversive protestors' avenues of escape from the (fascist) law, are being shut down one by one.

    5. Roger Mew

      Not on my Landy

      Ha ha they stand NO chance with my vintage Land Rover, It does not use electrics for the vehicle, just for starting, lights etc!

      However, some 20 years ago I was chatting to someone on my radio transmitter in my old diesel Land Rover. A car being a Targa, roared up behind me just as I started to transmit, the car could not pass, loads of black smoke and banging from the exhaust and it pulled in behind me. I passed the conversation back and the Targa stated to go again and just as the conversation was passed back to me the driver got brave enough to pass my Landy, Mais non, loads of banging popping and black smoke as the Targa again pulled in behind me. I told my other party and did some experiments and it was my 50 W on 145Mhz doing the business.

      Ford also did not like RF near their tractors, a client had one of their tractors destroyed under G/tee as the electronic box engaged several things at once damaging parts of the engine, totally the g/box and also the drive train. The farmer never bought another Ford!

      There are many comments like this and today the electronics on vehicles is all but bomb proof. I often stick 100w up the aerial on many frequencies and never have a problem. However, I do know I phuck the accurate speed of radar traps.

  2. Denarius Silver badge
    Happy

    Mission creep

    @Lars More like an interest in vintage performance cars

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Don't Panic

    I suppose that being alarmist is a "good" journalistic practice these days. But before putting a tin foil hat on your car do consider that the whole yearly budget of ENLETS is (including the "exceptional" contributions of the UK and the Netherlands) less than £1.2 million.

    That's barely enough to keep an office open full time in Brussels with a few paper pushers at the helm and to coordinate a few EU wide meetings a year.

    Developing, let alone deploying such solutions would cost - to use the el reg consecrated form - Beeeeeeeeellions which in the current economic climate are very unlikely to be voted through.

    1. Graham Dawson

      Re: Don't Panic

      You're forgetting how the EU works.

      This won't be funded by the Member States through ENLETS or through another EU institution. Instead the EU will issue a series of memorandums and guidelines on the harmonisation of technological measures for law enforcement and encourage reciprocity between member states on the sharing of technology and information, as well as encouraging cross-border cooperation on such matters. Member states will start implementing their own schemes to work toward a common operating procedure and common technological solutions to the problem outlined - without a single, EU-wide budget.

      Eventually the EU will start to issue regulatory and technical directives (which are not debated or voted on in national legislatures, but implemented directly into law) on key areas of the scheme in order to further harmonise and standardise the technology and procedures involved. Then it will issue a final set of directives on the broad scope of the scheme, at which point there will be a de-facto EU-wide traffic law enforcement system that is nominally run by local police forces, but is in fact almost entirely divorced from them.

      And so it goes.

      Meanwhile, ENLETS will get a small budget increase and continue to write memos.

    2. LarsG
      Unhappy

      Panic Panic Panic Panic

      Actually, panic is good.

      They will discuss and legislate this behind closed doors at the end of a corridor in the room next to the room that houses the cellar boiler, having removed the stairs, all signs and light bulbs.

      The paperwork will then materialise as if by magic and our Government, whichever it may be at the time will enforce it with true enthusiasm and real vigor. They will then claim that they cannot but follow the rules because the EU treaty is binding.

      Of course, the French will riot against it, the Germans will find it unconstitutional,the East Europeans will love it as it harks back to the days of old and state control, the Italians will ignore it, the Greeks will ask Germany for permission to avoid it and the Dutch will be too stoned to bother. Oh, not forgetting the Spanish, they will use it to stop traffic coming out of Gibraltar.

      1. Roger Mew

        Re: Panic Panic Panic Panic

        French riot, you have to be joking, the French maries are breaking the law all over, I am currently asking our mairie why they insist on putting motorcycle killers in that were outlawed 15 years ago. In fact whilst writing this I find that the French authorities have blocked the result of the legal action being on the internet however I have a copy and if you visit lostinfrance I can forward a copy of the action. Riot, you must be joking! However most will continue to use cars that have been "modified" to stop anything like that working.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Panic Panic Panic Panic

        > East Europeans will love it as it harks back to the days of old and state control

        I can see that you have never in your life set foot on "Eastern Europe" as you call it. As someone who has been living in an ex-Eastern Bloc country for a number of years I can assure you that the experience has not been forgotten and will not be repeated any time soon.

  4. Ralph B

    Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear

    > Open Source Intelligence

    I can't imagine that Richard Stallman is going to be very happy with that usage of "Open Source". (And even prefixing it with "GNU/" would be unlikely to placate him.)

    1. Silviu C.

      Re: Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear

      RMS never endorsed the term "open source", he cares about "free software".

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear

      > I can't imagine that Richard Stallman is going to be very happy

      What Silviu says. If one were talking of "inteligencia libre", that would be a different story but even then, I doubt he would (or should) be bothered. After all, anything that can be used can be misused, it's something we have to accept.

  5. Robert Heffernan

    Integration

    Integrate this with the eCall system so police can call back to all vehicles in range, find the speeder, and disable it that way.

    The idea of people getting wiped out by accident is ridiculous in that the system when disabling the vehicle could put the car in neutral, activate the hazard lights, disable the engine and lock the doors. The vehicle would coast to a stop and keep the offender/occupants safe inside the vehicle while other vehicles would give the target space as they should do when a car puts its hazards on and coasts to a stop

    1. frank ly Silver badge

      Re: Integration

      You've obviously never driven on UK motorways in the rush hour. It's nose to tail at 85mph in the outside lane and not much slower in the middle lane. Amazingly, it all works fine until the police interfere by driving around in marked cars or putting their flashing blue lights on.

      1. Robert Heffernan

        Re: Integration

        @MJI

        No, never on the UK Motorway. I have driven around Los Angeles though. But being an antipodean the worst I usually have to deal with is Kangaroos jumping out at me in the middle of the night on a Motorcycle, and Melbourne Taxi Drivers.

        1. Nick Ryan Silver badge

          Re: Integration

          the worst I usually have to deal with is Kangaroos jumping out at me in the middle of the night on a Motorcycle

          Shit, you really do have problems... kangaroos riding motorcycles.

          1. billse10
            Pint

            Re: Integration

            Oh, it's a Friday afternoon ... have a nice cold one to help get rid of the image of the motorcyle-riding kangaroos, before you start seeing two of each of them :)

          2. noominy.noom

            Re: Integration

            Sorry that I only have one upvote to give.

    2. MJI Silver badge

      Re: Integration

      Locked in a car stationary on the motorway?

      No effing way!

      Make sure your car is built pre this system!

      Bit like buy a pre 2006 for reasonable car tax

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Integration

        > Make sure your car is built pre this system!

        Which system?

        Did you even read the article?

        Where did you see that anything is being built?

        This falls in the same category of things like remote-controlled landing of passenger planes and other stuff that people use year after year to justify getting EU grants. In a nutshell: "Thank you for the €xx,xxx,xxx.- of funding for our research on [some outlandish idea with good media potential]. As a result of our studies, we have discovered that the matter is, er, complex and needs further investigation. We will be applying for the next round of funding next year. Many thanks again."

        I keep meaning to jump onto that bandwagon. I just need to work harder on shedding my remaining scruples. :(

    3. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: Integration

      It would take some mechanicals to shift the car into neutral that could be easily bypassed (or removed for safety reasons, I'll say). Shutting off the engine disables power steering and brakes, may be a bad thing at speed.

      1. Robert Heffernan

        Re: Integration

        @MachDiamond

        Having worked for a manufacturer of Automatic transmissions (I was in charge of machining valve bodies) I have a very good understanding of the control systems in a transmission. It would require a modest change to the mechanics of the valve body to remove the physical linkage from gear lever to the valve that controls what gear mode is selected (Park, Neutral, Reverse, Drive etc), and place it under electronic control.

        Power steering is a modern luxury, you are perfectly capable of steering a vehicle without it, in fact high speed on a motorway makes it easier to steer without it. My partner even drives a car without power steering and she has no problem with it around town.

        Also, modern brakes are designed to function perfectly without any power assistance. In fact it is part of their legal design requirements that they must still function even if the power assistance features of the braking system are completely disabled.

        1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

          Re: Integration @Robert Heffernan

          Automatic transmissions are still the exception in most of Europe.

          I have a compromised right arm. I'm not disabled, but the biceps take no part in moving my lower arm since I ruptured the tendons at the lower end (in case you are wondering, this is not any reflection of the NHS that it was not fixed, there were practical reasons why I did not have it done, including the risk of nerve damage to my right hand and calcification of the elbow).

          As a result, I generally have cars with power assisted steering now. I can drive a car without, but driving a car designed to have power assistance without the power is completely different from driving one designed without it. I had a Rover SD1, and even with the car moving, the wheel took two hands to turn if the engine was not running (once, after a breakdown, I was towed using a solid-bar that required me to steer and to some extent brake, but there was no power assistance for either - it was not pleasant). I think I could have driven it if the engine ran but the steering pump was not working , but it would have been difficult.

          Similarly, if the brake servo craps out on you while you are driving, don't expect the car to have the same stopping distance that it has with it running. The power assistance is there for a reason.

          I agree with your statement about cars having to be drivable without any power assistance, but that does not make any statement about how comparatively safe they are in that condition.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Integration

          Both power steering and anti-lock braking make a serious difference when suddenly not there any more. And after getting totally used to anti-lock braking, when it suddenly switches off you will likely lock the brakes because you're not used to needing fine control. While the same is likely to apply to power assisted braking I would be surprised if they weren't functions of the same system anyway.

          I don't really think power steering is a modern luxury, given that I had it - and it wasn't new then - on a car built more than 30 years ago; and the point of it was the car was heavy and needed it. I don't know the point of power braking though, except for a disabled driver or a car driven by computer, or perhaps to enable the owner to get away with not replacing pads and discs. I mean, we're not talking buses and artics. Are we? Which certainly need power steering.

          You can change gear (on a proper transmission) without using the clutch, but it is usually a pain if not a full blown pita.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Integration

            For the benefit of the serial, logic-free down-voter, I did tens of thousands of miles on a BMW in the early days of anti-lock braking and computer control and know exactly what it is like to adapt to this wonderful new technology, only to have it suddenly stop working. You see, when you have anti-lock brakes you don't leave as much braking distance.

            1. peterrat

              Re: Integration

              " when you have anti-lock brakes you don't leave as much braking distance."

              Sorry, Bad driving technique, full stop.

              1. Vic

                Re: Integration

                >> " when you have anti-lock brakes you don't leave as much braking distance."

                > Sorry, Bad driving technique, full stop.

                There are many, many bad drivers.

                When ABS first started to become available on mass-produced cars, I spoke to a friend in the Insurance trade about it.

                ABS cars were heavily loaded because they featured far more highly in front-end-damage collision statistics. Apparently, owners had failed to understand the difference between "anti-lock" and "magical"...

                Vic.

          2. Anomalous Cowturd
            WTF?

            @Mary Jane Bogart re: A.B.S.

            If you can't brake properly without the assistance of ABS, may I suggest you try paying a bit more attention to where you are going?

            I've had ABS for at least the last 20 years, and it has NEVER activated.

            Perhaps you should leave those Bogarts alone?

            P.S. I didn't downvote you. ;o)

            1. This post has been deleted by its author

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: @Mary Jane Bogart re: A.B.S.

              > I've had ABS for at least the last 20 years, and it has NEVER activated.

              It's been out of order for twenty years?

              1. Anomalous Cowturd
                FAIL

                Re: @Mary Jane Bogart re: A.B.S.

                No, you anonymous dick.

                It has never activated because I have never been in a situation where I couldn't brake safely without it. It's what used to be known as "paying attention to the road ahead."

                I have had one accident in 36 years of driving, and that was the other driver's fault. The fact that his insurance paid up without a quibble confirms this.

                Roll on Google cars, to take some of the idiots out of the equation.

            3. MJI Silver badge

              Re: @Mary Jane Bogart re: A.B.S. (Cowturd)

              To never activate ABS you must never have driven on an icy road, on snow, nor been forced to brake on a greasy junction.

              The odd ABS activation when a wheel hits a bit of slippy road does happen, it is not bad driving, in the past you would have released the brakes or just let it skid a little, ABS controls it.

              That said ABS is a pain in snow

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Integration

        > It would take some mechanicals to shift the car into neutral that could be easily bypassed

        Nah, all it takes is replacing the bolts securing the engine to the chassis with explosive ones. :)

    4. boltar Silver badge

      Re: Integration

      @ Robert Heffernan

      Aside from the points everyone else has made - just how hard do you think it is to kick out a side window with your feet? You honestly think locking the doors will keep ANY crims inside? They'll be out and gone in 30 seconds.

      1. phear46

        Re: Integration

        Boltar, please let me direct you to the jackass scene where a load of bees are dumped into a limo and the doors are locked. You will see kicking out a window just isn't that easy!

        Also, cars without powersteering are fine to drive.

        Cars with powersteering that all of a sudden loose that ability are ridiculously hard to drive. Try it. You'll pull a muscle trying to do a u turn...... those hydraulics are not your friend with no power assistance!

        1. boltar Silver badge

          Re: Integration

          "Boltar, please let me direct you to the jackass scene where a load of bees are dumped into a limo and the doors are locked. You will see kicking out a window just isn't that easy!"

          I rather suspect that a lot of limos have thicker/stronger glass than normal cars for obvious reasons.

          I've managed to crack a car window just by accidentally hitting a packing crate against it , I really don't think I'd have had much trouble kicking it in with both feet.

          1. This post has been deleted by its author

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Integration

            > I really don't think I'd have had much trouble kicking it in with both feet.

            Try it, then come and tell us.

            Seriously, you can do the experiment for probably about £10 at any scrap yard.

            Intentional ingress and egress of a locked car, without tools and without knowing certain specific techniques, is not as simple as it may seem.

            1. Vic

              Re: Integration

              >> I really don't think I'd have had much trouble kicking it in with both feet.

              > Try it, then come and tell us.

              Older cars with a rubber sealing strip aren't so bad - you put your feet in the corner of the screen and push against the seat, and the glass pops out.

              Newer cars with bonded screens - i.e. pretty much everything on the road at the moment - will likely be very much harder...

              Vic.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Integration

        > They'll be out and gone in 30 seconds.

        Not if you replace the airbag propellant with nerve gas. >:)

  6. T. F. M. Reader Silver badge

    Anybody home?

    Situations where a speeding car's engine can be shut down safely without the driver in control (hmm... the driver will almost certainly panic and he/she will still be able to steer, right?) are so few and far between that the mind boggles at the idea. That is before one considers the assumed infallibility of the devices themselves, of the control infrastructure, of the network, of the "operator", of the other drivers on the road (out of the camera's FoV and not expecting anything), etc. Just how many thefts and robberies will result in injuries and deaths?

    And to add insult to injury (sic!) it is the public who will pay for this, be it through a mandatory additional charge at purchase or through taxes or both.

    See $SUBJECT ...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Anybody home?

      Assuming for a minute that this article is reporting something which is actually going to happen and I for one find it highly unlikely...

      In the USA (and presumably in other countries as well) the last option for dealing with a speeding/fleeing motorist is to box them in with police cars and for all the police cars to slow down at the same rate, until they're stopped. It's effective, although costly in terms of damaged police vehicles. If an the engine of the target vehicle was stopped, that would drastically reduce steering (no power steering) and brakes (no servo assist) probably even prevent newfangled electrical handbrakes from working. So, I would imagine a box in and stop strategy like the one outlined above would be required.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Anybody home?

        In the States you tend to have the space to do that. In the UK we have so little space that many American cars are usually too big to be practical even when there's just one of them. Just try driving a HumVee here! Kind of like we can't have double-decker trains (on pre-existing track) because of all the low infrastructure. Last ditch here is afaik to let them get away rather than cause a likely-fatal pile-up.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Anybody home?

        > In the USA (and presumably in other countries as well)

        Not in Europe. In the country where I worked in the emergency services (medical, not police) the law stated that while using your priority signals (flashing lights *and* siren) you could break any road rules, but you were still liable for any damage caused. That was many years ago and I understand nowadays things are more strict--perhaps someone else can comment?

        In any case, American-style police chases are seen as unnecessary and reckless (and expensive) in Europe so the usual approach is to either take note of the number plate and turn up at the owner's address for a chat sometime latter, or if there is a more pressing need, they just set up a checkpoint (or more) at some strategic point(s) on your route. These are set up taking advantage of "natural" road constrictions such as toll areas or level crossings so you have no choice but to slow down. If you then try to speed away, the bloke on the driver side of the road with the spiked strips takes care of your tyres, while the bloke on the opposite side with the shotgun tries hard to look intimidating for good effect. A third or more plod are on hand to ask you questions and/or to kick the shit out of you if they don't like you.

  7. Anonymous Blowhard

    Already been done...

    I think it's already been done for some US models, but it's part of the manufacturer's anti-theft systems.

    They don't just turn the engine off though, they turn the power down gradually via the engine management, like if you were running out of fuel.

  8. Blofeld's Cat
    Facepalm

    Hmm...

    I suspect that it would only be a matter of weeks before the criminal fraternity found a way to counter this technology.

    Presumably the same people could clone the vehicle stopping transmitters, and generate a carriageway or two of stopped or slowing vehicles to assist their getaway.

    That would make a good plot for a film - something with red, white and blue Minis comes to mind.

    1. DavCrav Silver badge

      Re: Hmm...

      "I suspect that it would only be a matter of weeks before the criminal fraternity found a way to counter this technology.

      Presumably the same people could clone the vehicle stopping transmitters, and generate a carriageway or two of stopped or slowing vehicles to assist their getaway.

      That would make a good plot for a film - something with red, white and blue Minis comes to mind."

      So high tech. Or, or, fake number plates. Steal number plates off same model and colour car, hey presto, impossible to stop car. And I had, ooh, seconds to work out how to defeat this system.

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: Hmm...

        Well, as soon as they've worked out that the tax disc, MOT and insurance are now going to be tied into the number plate, there will be false plates left right and centre anyway. VIN burned into the EMS? A bit like mac address vs IP? Constantly transmitted via RFID-like technology to the inductor loops installed at almost every traffic light in the country? Compared to the data from an ANPR camera at key locations? Many traffic light installations are already networked back to a control centre like SCOOT. An extra board in the roadside box... yeah, could be done. Turn the vehicle off at a red traffic light... if they bother to stop, that is. Eventually they will draw up at the lights.

  9. Stuart 22

    Foot Shot

    Every green nerd is already salivating at this proposal.

    Yes it is a possible threat to civil liberties, it might kill a few innocent motorists. But look at the bigger picture. Hack the technology and no longer will Critical Mass and their like have to hang around on wet, cold nights playing cat & mouse with the plod in reclaiming the streets. Just being able to disable one vehicle in ten will bring London motor traffic to a halt. The place will be gridlocked for days.

    Its too big a prize for environmental nerds to resist. Crowd-hacking makes it quite possible. That is if the Russian blackmailing mafia don't get there first. Unhackable? Yes expect a euro-bureaucrat with the mindset that they need for that job might accept that.

    I have greater faith in people's ability to think around the (black) box.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Foot Shot

      "Every green nerd is already salivating at this proposal."

      Err, no. I'm a green nerd and I find it shockingly cavalier and ill thought through, or at least I would, if I believed it for a minute.

      1. ravenviz
        Joke

        Re: Foot Shot

        I had a shocking Cavalier once!

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

  10. OhDearHimAgain

    I'd think its unlikely that could easily target a single car in a high speed pursuit situation.

    Much more likely is that the car will have a device that shuts down the vehicle in response to a low frequency radio signal.

  11. OhDearHimAgain

    The system can never be secure - crims will chip it out of their cars, and use it to car-jack innocent motorists.

    It may inconvenience casual joy riders.

    Also said above, I also see a big problem with cars running on fake plates.

    I suspect the purpose of this story is to get more funding for a useless little department that was about to be shut down.

  12. Vimes

    Cars on the run have proven to be dangerous for citizens.

    It seems like technologically illiterate politicians with delusions of adequacy are an even bigger threat to the public. What can be done about them I wonder?

    Its interesting to note that they don't seem to see the problems with this idea. What happens for example when the firmware for such a system has been compromised? Do they pay people for their old and now unsafe cars - that can be stopped by anybody with the right knowledge - or will people be forced to simply accept that their pride and joy is now just a heap of scrap metal? Or perhaps they won't be told?

    1. Vimes

      Another idea: what happens when cars on the real highway are infected with a virus?

      Just stand on a bridge somewhere with your device remotely infecting cars as they pass by. Watch those cars drive off into the sunset around the rest of the country (and possibly even other parts of Europe).

      And then one day after a time limit has passed sit back and watch the ensuing mayhem that this causes.

      It would make the carnage on 7/7 look like child's play by comparison...

  13. Eradicate all BB entrants

    If it broadcasts/receives a signal it can ......

    ..... be compromised. Manage that on a motorway flyover at rush hour and enable the stop on a few cars and I doubt it will be a pretty sight.

    They also fail to see another aspect, if it becomes a legal requirement for all new cars then the police cars will have them at some point too. What if some naughty miscreant managed to abscond with a police vehicle? Thanks to the wonderful documentaries by Sheriff John Burnell and PC Tony Stamp-on-your-head we have seen the results of that a few times.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: If it broadcasts/receives a signal it can ......

      If the police can get it the criminals can get it...

      As with all things that are brought in for police usage or the public are banned from owning, criminals can get hold of them easily..

      The only thing that keeps the police generally ahead of criminals is that in most people are not that bright.

      When something is banned, only the bad people have them and usually you ban something to keep it out of the hands of bad people... so there is the paradox...

  14. 8Ace

    Power assisted ??

    And what happens to the power assisted steering and brakes when the engine is cut off at 70mph. I wouldn't want to be in the oncoming traffic stream in that instance.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Power assisted ??

      Unless they are mad*, they wouldn't cut the engine off instantly, rather they would gradually reduce the maximum speed over several minutes. As far as the driver would be concerned the car would be loosing power, but would otherwise still be completely controllable.

      * Of course being the EU they may be completely mad and do an instant-off; but technically it doesn't have to be that way.

      1. heyrick Silver badge

        Re: Power assisted ??

        "they wouldn't cut the engine off instantly, rather they would gradually reduce the maximum speed over several minutes." - "they"? Who is "they"?

        The only possible way this might be viable is to have a broadcast "please identify" to which all cars within range send an ID signal back. After a mile or so of police chase, there ought to be but one consistent reply. At which point the broadcast can be "car &DEADBEEF please power down" and leave it to be implementation defined how this is achieved (but most likely the engine management easing off the fuel until the engine stops).

        Because the only thing worse than an external source attempting to directly slow you down would be a nefarious external source instructing your car to floor it. (of course, given the usual level of security of these sorts of embedded systems....)

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    WASP by Eric Frank Russell

    Wasp is a 1957 science fiction novel by English author Eric Frank Russell. Terry Pratchett (author of the Discworld series of fantasy books) stated that he "can't imagine a funnier terrorists' handbook." Wasp is generally considered Russell's best novel.

    It features government controlled remote car shutdowns, and much else that we find commonplace nowadays

  16. ewozza
    Thumb Down

    Waste of effort

    There is already a small, portable (even hand held) device which can stop a car. So even aside from the moral dimension, this EU research effort is an utter waste of time and money.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Explosively_pumped_flux_compression_generator

    1. leaway2

      Re: Waste of effort

      Oh fantatstic a Flux Capaci.............oh wait min, damm.

    2. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

      Re: Waste of effort

      That device creates a semi-focused EM pulse that would knock out all of the cars (and pretty much any sensitive electronics as well) within a certain area, probably including the police vehicle itself. It's a very blunt weapon. Would be good on a battlefield (which is where it would be effective is used by a non-technologically augmented infantry soldier, especially against smart soldiers and exoskeletons).

      I would love to see the compensation claim against the police from a couple of hundred drivers for their cars, in-car entertainment systems, phones, watches, and a myriad of other devices, especially if the device was operated in a built-up area.

  17. David Pollard
    Pint

    Statewatch

    Power to their elbow etc.. They've been working consistently to preserve and enhance civil liberties for quite some years now.

  18. TopOnePercent Silver badge

    MegaSquirt/Jolt

    This will have to be wired into the ECU, requiring some form of radio signal to activate that specific ECU to shut the engine down. There are a number of issues that need to be resolved before that would be a good idea.

    1) Power steering and servo assited brakes require the engine to be running to work. Yes, you can steer and slow down without these, but at greatly reduced capability.

    2) Numpties designing the shut down command & control software will inevitably link this to registration plate, so when yours gets cloned (which is VERY common in the UK), police trying to shut down a fleeing car will end up shutting down your car, wherever it happens to be (parked, on a different motorwat, or passing a level crossing).

    Criminals will simply prepare better by building a megasquirt system sans the remote controls, and pulling the fuse on the vehicles ABS pump.

    With a little practice, an ECU on many cars can be swapped in 20 minutes, so making this an MOT requirement won't work as you'll be able to swap back and forth between 3rd party ECU and the dealer supplied one.

  19. TopOnePercent Silver badge

    Low tech

    Low tech works best for vehicle stops, so simply equipping police traffic cars with shotguns to shoot tyres, and allowing the use of the "pitt manouvre" which is currently verbotten in the UK would achieve more consistent results.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Low tech

      Though I see they have now taken to shooting out the tyres:

      http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-sussex-25904646

  20. MachDiamond Silver badge

    Ransom

    If some technically inclined group were to demonstrate they were capable of broadcasting a stop vehicle signal in a not so congested area and then threatened to do the same thing durning rush hour in Manhattan on the Friday night of a holiday weekend in winter, what might a government pay in ransom? London? Paris? Once the cars are fitted with such devices, how to do you remove them? I would expect that they would be integrated into the car's electronics and not simply a discrete module that could be removed. I'm sure that it would be mandated that the function was implemented in such a way. The grid-lock threat would persistent from the day somebody figured out how to do it. The knowledge would also be worth a serious pile of money if the people that find the way in know how to capitalize on it. It could even be used in a political manner. The US just had what appears to be a politically motived bit of grid lock in NY/NJ.

    Auto anti-theft systems were supposed to be secure against hacking due to the number of possible codes available. With a laptop and a bit of external electronics, it's possible to run a very serious number of codes in a short period of time. The anti-theft systems now become a fancy way of opening all of the doors, starting the engine, sounding the alarm and turning on the heating or cooling to taste. This was being done in the US at shopping malls during the holiday season to break into cars. With so many car alarms going off, thieves were camouflaged by all of the confusion. I wonder if anybody had to get a tow to the dealer to reset the disabling "feature".

  21. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Big Brother

    And so the "feature" creep begins

    WTF wants this in their car?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: And so the "feature" creep begins

      "WTF wants this in their car?"

      Presumably anybody with a nice enough car to justify (or consider) paying £300-£800 for a Tracker installation. With Tracker you might get your car back, but only after the crims have thrashed and crashed it trying to escape the police. Remote stop works much better.

      For the people (like me) driving old shit heaps or cheap everyday cars, there's less call for it. Regarding feature creep, consider what the police will think, when they can automatically disable cars if they aren't taxed, MOT'd or insured. Will that be a good thing or not?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: And so the "feature" creep begins

        I do drive a very nice car, £50k it cost me,

        but I would not pay for a tracker, I don't want a tracker, IF a criminal manages to steal my car, then I'll be surprised they broke past the security but that is why I pay for insurance, I get a new car if I don't get it back, and I would not expect to get it back if it was stolen, even with a tracker.

  22. John 98

    This obviously raises plenty of questions, but then it won't happens for years yet and stopping drunks, bank robbers or little old ladies driving the wrong way down the motorway does have attractions. I don't think the technical problems are insurmountable - and with driverless cars coming, it may work out at telling the car to park at the next lay-by so Mr. Plod can have a word.

    On the legal side - the main reason Brussels is undemocratic is because the UK government has tirelessly lobbied for exactly that. The EU is run from a smoke filled room (the Council of Ministers) with no minutes, public scrutiny etc. And guess who has always insisted on that?

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
      Joke

      "with driverless cars coming, it may work out at telling the car to park at the next lay-by so Mr. Plod can have a word."

      Why? What did the passenger do wrong? Surely Mr Plod should be having a word with Mr Google or similar.

  23. TechEmperor

    Why only remote halt ?

    If you spend all that money for a system, why not make it remote control vehicle ? Don't just stop it in the middle of a motorway. Drive it remotely to a controlled stop. Or not. Just keep driving it, until the thief jumps out!

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Re: Why only remote halt ?

      I think Dr Who did something similar. ATMOS, wasn't it?

  24. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Unhappy

    The UK and The Netherlands. Surprised by the Dutch, *not* the British

    Both have quite densely populated countries and high speed chases can cause lots of trouble.

    But that's not it...

    I smell ACPO at work...

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Re: The UK and The Netherlands. Surprised by the Dutch, *not* the British

      Yah, boot in der Nederlands, also needs to be fitted to der gettavay bikes, yar?

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    Quick swap the Plates, wheels, electronics, mobile, eyes, DNA, walk, fingerprints.

    Swapping out number plates won't be much use to the oiks soon. The states have mandatory tyre pressure senders for a while now, each with its own serial number and radio transmitter. Combine ANPR, TPMS, Cell triangulation, GPS, Motion tracking, face recognition, iris identification, gate analysis, NFC, Bluetooth and WIFI MAC etc on top of these new ones..

    Soon we'll each get our own drone to let us know how we are doing, the ones being tailed by drones with rockets on may loose some friends.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    All wrong!

    They're simply transferring all the Army Air Corp Apache's to the Police.

    Remote car-stopper is a Hellfire! They'll probably send next of kin a bill for the missile too!

  27. This Side Up
    Stop

    Oh well,

    The villains will just have to go back to driving Mk.2 Jags then...

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Re: Oh well,

      Time to resurrect The Sweeney, and get Bodie and Doyle on the case.

  28. phil dude
    Meh

    cynical...

    I haven't had my coffee but part of my brain is waving at me and saying "Perhaps they are floating the balloon and have some less dire they want to push"....

    But the again, it comes from politicians, so since they are spending YOUR money they can have their fantasies come true....

    P.

  29. JurassicPark

    Feature Creep

    Police already use spike strips, on all the Police-Camera-Action programmes these always work. Therefore we just need a way of automating this..How about a small explosive charge in every new tyre sold, rig this up to the SIM card that will be soon be included in every new car for emergency use, then the Police just have to phone the car, send their unique PIN and blow the wheels off.

    1. Christoph Silver badge

      Re: Feature Creep

      "send their unique PIN and blow the wheels off."

      You were only supposed to blow the bloody doors off!

  30. Trollslayer Silver badge

    How to hack a police car

    Yep, hackers have the best tools and criminals have the money to pay them.

    Click, try to stop in a high speed pursuit and CRASH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  31. Simon B

    Most modern cars have LIMP mode built into the engine management system which restricts speed/revs if it detects a fault. By taking this a step further, the system could also have stop mode where it gradualy reduces 'limp' speed until eventaully the car stalls and stops at 0 mph. This brings the car to a steady and controlled stop AND keeps the engine running to allow power steering to function etc. The big thing is ensuring the security IS tight so a remote hack in couldn't reverse it and start the worlds car speeding up at random.

    1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Unhappy

      @Simon B

      "The big thing is ensuring the security IS tight so a remote hack in couldn't reverse it and start the worlds car speeding up at random."

      Except all evidence on the security of car systems is that there is effectively none.

      The best security to restrict this system is to not fit it in the first place.

  32. Yugguy

    When the car stopper comes out I want one. The next time some scrotey little tosser in 1.0 Corsa with a pointlessly massive and pointlessly noisy exhaust drives past it will be "CLICK.... Ahhh, silence."

    Then spend a happy few minutes watching Corsa Boi try to figure out wotz rong wiv de mota?

  33. 2Fat2Bald

    Eventually...

    It will be rolled out to all sorts of people. First it will go to the Police. Then it will go to the DVLA. Then it will go to the exchequer.

    "Your licence to use UKROADS has expired - please contact a service representative. Your vehicle has gone into reduced functionality mode"...

    THEN they'll sell it to car makers and insurance underwriters.

  34. Alan Esworthy

    cops/govt exempt, of course

    I'll offer good odds to anyone who wants to bet that police and other govt vehicles will not be exempt from any remote-control systems.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

  35. Frankee Llonnygog

    Remote electronic stop switch for cats?

    I have applied to trademark the name Purrsecutor

  36. David Pearce

    Electronics in the hands and control of the hacker can never be secured The entertainment industry has found this out again and again. To have a chance of working, they would have to make the ECU talk to a central server periodically and refuse to work if comms is lost

  37. xyz

    Well, Police, Camera, Action is going to be crap after this.

    No more Sheriff Wyle E. Coyote doing a "pit" on some MF in his pick up, who's just shot his bitch and has run out of his driving whisky...or the Road Wars mob chasing some scroat blasting a nicked red Mini Metro 'round Slough (other shitholes are available).... Who is going to buy video of cops pressing a switch?

    1. Swiss Anton

      Re: Well, Police, Camera, Action is going to be crap after this.

      Yes, I have the same worries about GTA-9

  38. This post has been deleted by its author

  39. DavCrav Silver badge

    Simultaneously stupid for two directions

    1) It is meant to be an exploit that needs to work no matter what defences the criminal uses on the car.

    2) It's going to have to be protected by a system that criminals cannot break to use to their own advantage.

    If you think either 1) or 2) is possible, then I have a bridge to sell you.

  40. Swiss Anton

    No worries

    Assuming this isn't going to be done by some EMP blunderbuss, lets take a reality check on some of the criticisms on this story.

    1) The engine won't suddenly stop. All modern cars have a computer that controls the engine. The kill signal will simply instruct it to engage an electronic speed limiter that progressively slows the car down until it stops.

    2) The kill signal will include a vehicle identifier and be digitally signed, and the vehicle will report its id when pinged*, so only authorised users will be able to stop specific vehicles. (* They probably would want to do this already as number plates are easily forged, which is bad for speed cameras and congestion charging)

    3) Civil Liberty concerns are history. Anyone with mobile phone is already being tracked (ask Mr Snowden about that).

    4) It won't stop old cars. Easy, the officials can simply ban old cars from the roads on the grounds of pollution and health and safety.

    The only comments that are legitimate are the ones about tin foil and jammers, and there in lies the reason why this whole idea is a non-starter.

    BUT THERE IS A WAY AROUND THIS PROBLEM, rather than using a kill signal, maybe the way to do this is to get the car's computer to periodically request permission to drive from some big brother computer. No permission, car stops**. Make it request every 5 minutes and that should be enough to stop the crims before they can do to much damage. (**Country folk will of course be off the grid, but hey they have horses)

    I write this because if I can think of this, then so can some EU technocrat, fore-warned is fore-armed, and in any case with a wireless comms link, the system will be hackable.

    1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Facepalm

      @Sweet Anton

      "BUT THERE IS A WAY AROUND THIS PROBLEM, rather than using a kill signal, maybe the way to do this is to get the car's computer to periodically request permission to drive from some big brother computer. No permission, car stops**. Make it request every 5 minutes and that should be enough to stop the crims before they can do to much damage. (**Country folk will of course be off the grid, but hey they have horses)"

      Oh sweet $deity, are you f**king mad?

      The last thing you need to give these ar**wipes are more ideas.

  41. cortland

    And cars with NO electrics?

    The solution is a "green" car with no electrics at all, hydrogen fueled, with an external combustion steam engine and carbide lighting.

  42. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

    FUD?

    "In most cases the police are unable to chase the criminal due to the lack of efficient means to stop the vehicle safely."

    Are there any stats demonstrating the above? I call FUD on that.

    If it turns out to be true, then pretty much every crim in car is safe and almost untouchable, which I find pretty much unbelievable.

  43. HW de Haan

    I thought BMW or Audi were already working on such a system.

    And when looking at the current alternatives, pit, tpac, stinger, creating trafic-jam or simply letting the fugitives go, this sounds like a reasonable alternative. Neither of the current methods of stopping the perps are any safer, well perhaps tpac but you need an awfull lot of roadspace and cars to accomplish that one, than the horror scenarios some of the previous commenters have suggested.

    Maybe I have a higher regard for the average IQ of police officers then some other readers, but I don't think they're stupid enough to blindly push the button just any moment anywhere. Afterall I haven't yet seen them using a pit in the middle of mondaymorning-traffic om the M5...

    btw, most of the current highspeed car-chases originate from DUI and joyriding. Neither of those will usually have/take the time to tamper with such a system before they become a subject in a car chase...

  44. Anonymous Coward
    Facepalm

    As ever, the crims will quickly learn how to disable this technology.

    Ordinary folk will be at the mercy of the hackers and the crims will have no problem whatsoever.

  45. ecofeco Silver badge
    Holmes

    Want to build?

    Uh, it already exists.

    It's called "On Star" and GM would be happy to license it to you.

  46. F0rdPrefect
    Unhappy

    How long would it be before ...

    The bad guys get their hands on a system like that?

    After Mr Plod, or before?

    So who would be stopped first?

    Why those with new, expensive, top of the range cars who are worth robbing or kidnapping (depending on which country you are in) and they won't have their car switched off at 90mph on a motorway but in a quiet side street where they are an easy target.

    Oh and if this becomes a common "feature" of cars, how long before someone, like North Korea, decides to switch off all vehicles with that system?

    I think that there would be too many unintended consequences to a system like that.

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