While the battle for tomorrow's cop car of choice wages on, technology providers are showing off their latest gear in hopes of being included on whichever vehicle wins out.
Here's our list of the best new police patrol technologies.
- Image Credit: GM
StarChase GPS Launcher
This might be the closest thing on our list to what you might expect to see in a Bond flick. The StarChase GPS Launcher is exactly that: a big air cannon that fires a GPS tracking device from a patrol car onto a pursued vehicle.
The idea here is that officers can curb dangerous high-speed pursuits by tracking a vehicle remotely via GPS. Now, knowing a vehicle's whereabouts no longer requires blaring sirens and lights down the 405. (In fact, LAPD is known to own such a device.)
- Image Credit: STARCHASE
Automatic License Plate Recognition
As we covered on an earlier episode of TRANSLOGIC, some police cars now have the ability to automatically scan license plates while they patrol the streets, leading to possible citations or arrests. In other words, you can run, but you can't hide.
Automatic License Plate Recognition, or ALPR, works with a system of cameras mounted to the cruiser that can scan thousands of license plates per hour. Even at high speeds, the cameras scan license plates against a database that signals any standouts. The alerts are almost instantaneous.
For now, police say they aren't going after small infraction (like excessive parking tickets), rather are more interested in finding 'high-threat' criminals. If you're driving a stolen car, for instance, and get passed by a cop with ALPR, it's very unlikely you stand a chance.
We applaud this technological marvel, but hope it doesn't fall into the wrong hands. (We're looking at you, parking enforcement officers.)
- Image Credit: TRANSLOGIC
Project54 is a voice command system designed to help officers drive safer. Law enforcement isn't just cracking down on distracted driving among civilians, they're looking at themselves too. And, considering the vast amount of buttons spread over the dash a typical cruiser, we can see why.
Researchers at the University of New Hampshire have developed a system that can actually replace many of the touch controls in the car. Commands include turning on lights and sirens, running plates and taking a radar reading of a speeding car. All it requires is a single 'push-to-talk' button and spoken commands, much like Ford's Sync system.
The cost of this system is relatively low, compared to some of the other hi-tech police gear we've featured. Software goes for about $500, and runs on a standard laptop computer.
- Image Credit: UNIVERSITY OF NEW HAMPSHIRE
Federal Signal Intersection Clearing System
It's happened to us all: we're distracted or our music is too loud and we can’t hear the emergency vehicle fast approaching from behind. It has become a big problem for law enforcement, but a new device may help solve the issue.
The Rumbler, created by Federal Signal, is being called an "Intersection Clearing System." It works by using two 8-inch woofers and an amp to produce a low-frequency signal layered with a traditional siren's high-pitched tone. The results won't go unnoticed.
The range is about 200 ft ahead of a police car, but company officials say it works better it tighter spots. We imagine they mean densely populated urban areas, where cars are typically stacked on top of each other.
- Image Credit: FEDERAL SIGNAL
Carbon Motors E7
Purpose-built from the ground up, the E7 is made of fast and flexible thermoplastic and can go from 0 to 60 miles per hour in just 6 seconds. Not only that, but Carbon estimates that the price would be the same as retrofitting an existing livery car. Prices are said to start in the high-20-thousands and go up from there, if all the prior tech listed here was to be included.
- Image Credit: CARBON MOTORS