No, the police will not be blasting drunks with laser weapons. We do not live in a dystopia, and besides, the police have plenty of fun weapons already. No, instead, this will be what’s used to spot a drunk driver, through the magic of light and chemistry.
Here’s the fundamental problem with finding a drunk driver: They have to be spotted, pulled over, tested, and packed off to jail before they crash into a school bus or run a red light. That’s a problem because not all drunks weave all over the road at 15mph. Some people might be wasted but can drive straight enough and fast enough to seem normal, right up until they have to react to something.
The lasers step in before it gets to that point.
Frickin’ Laser Beams
The lasers essentially spots the drunk by studying the air around him. It’s a similar method used to find explosives and dangerous materials at a distance. First, you fire the laser at the car. The laser bounces back, dispersed through the cabin, and returns to a photoreceptor in the detector. By knowing how much of the laser is absorbed by alcohol vapor, you know the exact alcohol content of the car.
If it sounds a little implausible, well, right now it requires a mirror. But the idea could be used to automate drunk driving checkpoints, or even make them year-round endeavors. It could also sample cars on the road and give officers the ammo to pull them over and apply more specific tests.
Safer On The Roads
We’ve made enormous steps towards reducing drunk driving, both in awareness and getting drunks off the road. But anything we can do to reduce the odds of a wreck is a good thing, and come on, admit it, you want your tax dollars to go to insanely advanced lasers. We know we do.
Dan Seitz is an obsessive nerd living in New England. He lives in the Boston area with a fiancee, a dog, a cat, and far too many objects with processors.