Three students have invented a “High Pitch Frequency Distractor” (aka “Mini Bazooka”) which will give the police an additional option in stopping getaway cars which fail to stop at road blocks. One of them, Muhd Haikal, tells us about it…
Haikal (left) and his team with their SAFE inventions
Do you remember the shooting incident that happened in the early hours of the morning on 31 May 2015? Mohamad Taufik Zahar, together with 2 friends, was in a rented Red Subaru on their way to Orchard Towers, when they encountered a police roadblock near Shangri-La Hotel. The driver, Taufik, accelerated and crashed through the concrete barrier in an attempt to evade security checks, which were in place to secure the nearby Shangri-La Hotel, where a high-level security summit was being held.
Two Gurkha officers stationed beyond the final layer of the security checkpoint raised their weapons and repeatedly shouted “Police, Stop!” as the car sped towards them. Ignoring their warning, Taufik continued to accelerate. The police opened fire, which killed the driver instantly. It turned out that the trio in the car had tried to escape because they were drug offenders, rather than because they had terrorist intentions.
The incident subsequently ignited much discussion on whether the police should have opened fire, and whether the driver’s death could have been avoided. After this incident, it gave me an idea of what to do for my Major Project! Together with my 2 team mates, we decided to invent a “Mini Bazooka”!
This “Mini Bazooka” uses compressed carbon dioxide from a canister to shoot and propel a projectile, comprising a sharp pointed head on an electronic device, which will break and penetrate a car’s window. Once it’s inside the car, the electronic device will emit an extremely loud and high pitched sound to distract the driver and cause discomfort to the occupants, hopefully forcing them to stop and abandon the getaway car.
The projectile is “fired” by activating a trigger, which is basically a lever that releases the CO2 into the barrel of the bazooka, with the compressed air providing the propulsion and thrust.
The trigger on the bazooka
The project was not as easy as it sounds, because we had to find a propellant that would be powerful enough to project the object and break a car’s windscreen, but yet safe enough for the person firing it. In the end, we settled for a CO2 canister usually used by cyclists in an emergency to inflate a punctured bicycle tyre.
The CO2 canister used as propellant
We had wanted to enhance the project further, by adding a smoke release feature similar to a smoke grenade used in the army, which would fill up the entire car with thick white smoke, in addition to emitting the loud shrill sound. With visibility clouded and suffocation ensuing, the chances of getting the car to stop would be much higher. But due to the lack of time, we could not implement this added feature.
We submitted our “Mini Bazooka” as it was, with just the loud sound feature, for the annual Security Awareness for Everyone (SAFE) competition held on 13 Nov 2015. The competition, organised by the Ministry of Home Affairs, aimed to spur students like us, to develop innovative solutions to address the varied safety and security concerns in Singapore, and to raise our awareness about homeland security. I am proud to say that our project won a Merit Award in the competition!
Could such a “Mini Bazooka” have been used in the Shangri-la incident? And if so, would it have led to a different outcome, without compromising on security? Could an unfortunate death for the wrong reason have been avoided? I guess these are questions that will always remain, but nevertheless, I am glad that, more than just winning a Merit award at the SAFE competition, my team has invented a device that could potentially help to improve Singapore’s security.
With further enhancements and the smoke feature added in future, I’m sure that the device would prove even more compelling and effective for the police.