Police in Florida and Iowa are trying an interesting but potentially ill-fated technology to make car chases easier and safer: it’s a device that shoots out of an air cannon mounted on the police car and sticks to the car being chased. The device has a GPS locator, allowing the police to track the car in real time.
The idea is that police won’t have to drive just as recklessly as the criminals in a car chase, once the device is attached. The device won’t end car chases, and there’s no reason to believe that criminals would drive more safely once the GPS tracker was on, but police hope to use it to track down criminals at a more leisurely pace.
The trial project is being funded by the company that makes the devices, Starchase, which is good, because they don’t necessarily seem car chase ready yet. In a demonstration for reporters, the GPS devices only stuck to one out of four cars. And those cars were parked, not swerving through traffic at scary speeds. Also, the devices cost $250 apiece, and are only good for one use.
The whole world of defense contracting gets sketchy fast, but this doesn’t seem to have any serious downside. The devices can go awry, but they don’t seem to be dangerous. It’s easy to imagine them being wasted. They have to be super sticky, first to make it onto the car, and then to stay there when the criminals get a big enough lead to stop and try to pull it off. If they can get it on a different car, they are in the clear for a while.