Samuel Gardiner, UUP, is a keen advocate of the zapper
A gadget which disables suspect vehicles with radio waves could prove a hi-tech weapon for Northern Ireland's police.
The zapper device, which is still being tested by Home Office scientists, could become instrumental in curbing Northern Ireland's so-called joy riders.
According to its inventor, Dr David Giri, at the flick of a switch, the zapper directs a beam of intensely concentrated radio waves at the target car and makes it stall, safely bringing it to a halt.
The system works, says Dr David Giri, because it turns the very technology which has revolutionised motoring over the past decade against the driver.
Computer chips are now used in most cars to control the fuel injection and engine firing systems. By knocking these out the car cannot be driven.
Dr Giri, a physics professor at the University of California in Berkeley set up a company called ProTech to develop the radio wave vehicle-stopping system for the US marine corps and the Los Angeles police department.
He will be presenting his invention at the Euroem 2004 science conference in Germany on Tuesday.
Samuel Gardiner, an Ulster Unionist assembly member for Upper Bann, is a keen advocate of the zapper.
"Earlier this year, I called for the introduction of zappers for police to combat high speed chases with joyriders and the like. This would reduce the dangers of people being killed," he said.
"It works on most cars built in the past 10 years, because their engines are controlled by computer chips. By disrupting the computer, it can stop the car. A prototype is due to be ready by next summer."
"I want the PSNI to have this device as soon as is humanly possible,"
Tests on the device are being conducted by Home Office scientists and UK police also appear to be interested.
However, officers still want to know more about the effect of the device on non-suspect cars in the area. And, of course, it does not work on vehicles built before on-board computers were standard.
A spokeswoman for the Police Service of Northern Ireland said: "Any equipment which is procured and used by the PSNI has to be approved and tested by the Home Office Scientific Development branch."