Remotely Shut Off Your Car with a Text Message

How’s this for an interesting piece of convergence technology? It is never a pleasant experience when you return from a nice dinner to find that your car is missing. Presumably, one of two things happened. First, your car may have been towed and now you could be footing quite the big bill. Second, your car may have been stolen.

While it may not help with the first situation, this solution from some University of Saskatchewan engineering students could certainly help with the latter. If your car happens to get stolen, you can send a text message to a certain number and it remotely shut off your car, no matter where it is. This way, the thief will get stranded on the side of the road and you can more easily recover your prized Chevy Aveo.

How does it work? When your car receives your shutdown text message, a sequence of events will be initiated that cause the car’s internal computers to think that the car has overheated. The internal computers, according to developer Michael Siourounis, have not been modified in any way.

You don’t want the car to shut down suddenly while the thief is flying down the highway, so the system actually sets the car into limited power mode for 30 seconds. The car can only go about 30km/h in this mode, according to developer Shae Pederson. During that time, the thief can presumably pull over and stop the car. At that point, the car will shut down completely. The onboard GPS can then send its location to back to your phone via text message.

The prototype device costs about $600. Looks like there’s more that comes out of Saskatchewan than Corner Gas.


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