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Iowa police are using GPS bullets to track runaway cars

We’ve seen it in Batman movies for years now, but GPS bullets aren’t science fiction anymore. The fuzz have developed a way to blast GPS transponders out of their squad cars and stick them onto vehicles they’re pursuing. So much for that souped-up V8 under your hood.

As reported by the Des Moines Register, Iowa police are now equipped with a new system called StarChase – what essentially amounts to a high-tech, vehicle-mounted t-shirt cannon that shoots adhesive-covered GPS trackers instead of rolled-up cotton v-necks. Using an in-car aiming system, police officers are able to make tiny adjustments to the device’s direction, and at the press of a button, pop open a lid on the grille to fire the projectile with compressed air. We took the liberty of making a GIF for you below, but you can find the whole video here if you want more details.


The technology has been in development for a number of years, but up until now hasn’t been picked up by very many law enforcement agencies due to its relatively high cost. Currently, one launcher system costs just a bit over $5K, and each GPS tracker round is $500. The Iowa State  police fleet only has one vehicle equipped with StarChase at this point, but there are plans to install the system into five more cars very soon. 

The idea is that this technology will reduce the need for officers to enter into dangerous high-speed chases, instead allowing them to back off and track suspects remotely. US Trooper Tim Sieleman, speaking with the Des Moines Register, confirms this:

“I was able to tag a vehicle and back completely out of the chase,” he said. “We shut it down, tracked him over into Omaha. After they think the officer has disengaged, they back down to normal speeds to blend in with traffic so they don’t get noticed again,” Mr Sieleman said.

Seems pretty reasonable, but if this catches on it’ll spell doom for all those high-speed chase shows on TruTV.

What’s your take on this? Are shootable GPS trackers a good idea, or do they extend the reach of Johnny Law too far? Let us know in the comments

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