James Tatoian, chief executive of Eureka Aerospace in Pasadena, California, is developing a system that uses microwave energy to interfere with microchips inside cars.

Once the chip is overloaded with excessive current, the car ceases to function, and will gradually decelerate on its own, he said.

“If you put approximately 10 or 15 kilovolts per meter on a target for a few seconds, you should be able to bring it to a halt,” Tatoian said.

Most cars built in the United States since 1982 have some type of on-board microprocessor. Today, the processors are advanced enough to control functions such as fuel injection and GPS equipment.

Eureka Aerospace’s High Power Electromagnetic System consists of a series of wires arranged in a 5-foot-by-4-foot rectangular array. The interference is emitted in a conical shape outward from the device.

Tatoian said that while he is not the first to come up with the idea of using electromagnetic interference to stop cars, he has been able to reduce the size and power consumption of such a device so that it would be much more portable.

It is small enough such that it could be mounted onto a helicopter, or onto a law enforcement pursuit vehicle — an application that interests the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

Eureka Aerospace hopes to have a working prototype that the sheriff’s department can test by late summer. The National Institute of Justice and the U.S. Marine Corps may also be potential early clients. The company’s early tests indicate that the car-stopping device should be functional at a range of 300 feet.

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