The U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Science & Technology Directorate has been working with a research firm in Arizona that has come up with the Safe Quick Undercarriage Immobilization Device (SQUID). The SQUID is designed to safely, non-lethally stop drivers trying to elude the police.
Here's how it works. The SQUID disc is placed in the middle of the road, and a remote operator triggers a two-stage explosion when the getaway car gets close to it. The first explosion sends barbed straps flying out away from the disc, which get hooked on the wheels and undercarriage when the car drives over them. The second explosion occurs when the SQUID detects engine heat directly overhead and sends a burst of "sticky tendrils" that cling the straps to the axles and driveshaft. Within 500 feet, the axles can't turn any more and the car skids to a halt.
The key now is to make it lighter, stronger and cheaper. Last year the SQUID stopped a Dodge Ram pickup traveling at 35 mph, but authorities want to be sure it will stop an F-150 at 120 mph before they'll seriously consider using it. We aren't sure that an F-150 doing a four-wheel skid at 120 mph is the safest way to bring someone in, but it is probably better than bullets. The scientists are working on that this year, and if they get it done it could give the word "dragnet" a whole new meaning.
Check out a walk-through of how the SQUID works by clicking through the gallery below.