Vice Squad
Tuesday, June 22, 2004
The Saab Alcokey

Saab is developing a system that would prevent someone from starting his or her car following a failed breathalyzer test. One advantage of this system relative to existing alternatives is that it should be about 90% cheaper, around 250 euros:
The Alcokey concept is an adaptation of existing anti-theft technology. When the driver presses the 'doors open' button on the car’s remote control fob, the alcohol sensor is also switched on.

The driver then blows into a small mouthpiece at the end of the fob to provide a breath sample which passes down a small internal tube containing a semi-conductor sensor the size of a pin-head. The sample is analysed and a small green or red light on the fob is illuminated.

If the green light is shown, the key will transmit an 'all clear' signal to the car's electronic control unit. This is in addition to the usual signal the key always transmits to switch off the engine immobiliser.

But if a red light is shown, the 'all clear' signal will not be sent and the engine will remain immobilised. The software instructing the engine immobiliser can be adjusted according to the alcohol limits in operation where the car is registered.

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