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An Array of `Less Than Lethal' Weapons

THIS fall, a joint committee staffed by the Department of Justice and the Pentagon will decide which ``less than lethal'' technologies to develop. Here is a sample of systems the committee may consider:

* Airbags mounted in the ceilings of police cars that can be inflated to subdue aggravated prisoners. The bags are made of a permeable membrane that prevents suffocation.

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* Chemical agents that slicken roads and runways, rendering them impassable to ground vehicles and airplanes.

* Combustion inhibitors in aerosol or liquid form that can kill engines by changing the chemical properties of their fuel.

* Giant nets, fired from a gun, that immobilize people or vehicles with adhesive or electric shock. * Holographic machines that can project imaginary images onto streets and battlefields.

* Flickering or alternating lights that can confuse or sicken perpetrators.

* Low-energy lasers that can cause temporary blindness.

* High-power electromagnetic generators that interfere with brain waves and alter behavior.

* Electromagnetic missiles that explode above ground, knocking out electricity over a large area.

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* Stun grenades fired from launchers than can deter combatants without hurting them.

* Electronic pulses that can be fired at cars to simulate impact, causing accelerators to shut off.