On Wednesday, two suicide bombers drove their explosives-filled cars into military targets in Egypt, killing at least nine soldiers and wounding 17 people. In effort to prevent such attacks on their member countries, NATO has developed a ray gun-like weapon capable of stopping suspected suicide bombers’ vehicle before they reach their designated targets.

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Built by Diehl Defence, the nonlethal gun emits a beam of microwave energy that causes voltage spikes in electronic devices, essentially frying the circuits within. Since electronics are essential for a car engine to run, the beam immediately shuts down an approaching and potentially dangerous vehicle.

NATO researchers recently released a video of the beam stopping an approaching car at a simulated military checkpoint. By mounting the beam-shooting device in the back of a vehicle, tests showed the system is capable of disabling a car that approaches from the rear. The device can even remotely deactivate a bomb by jamming radio signals and it could be used at sea to disable pirate ships and to shut down drones.

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Details of how it works are still kept under wraps, but the physics are known. The trick is designing a beam generator with enough energy and then directing that energy toward a specific location. How to do that has eluded scientists for years. And although the weapons bears no resemblance to an actual sci-fi ray gun (it looks like a trio of blenders in a large cupboard) if it stops suicide bombers, no one is going to get hung up on the aesthetics.

Nic Halverson contributed to this article.

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