Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's)

FAQs about Less-Lethal Technologies

Below are listed questions often asked regarding non-lethal technology. Scroll down through the listed FAQs - if you do not locate an answer, use the form on the left to email your question to our staff. An answer, if we have one, will be emailed back to you and posted here for others to review.

Question
What does Non-Lethal mean?
Answer
Non-lethal is a term used by the military (mostly aligned to NATO) and in United Nations' documents. Tends not to be used by law enforcement agencies. A strict interpretation of the term implies a weapon, system or technology designed with the intent of not causing serious injury or death.
 
Question
How is your Institute associated with Penn State University?
Answer
The Institute for Non-lethal Defense Technologies was chartered by the Pennsylvania State University in 1998. It is housed and administered through the Applied Research Laboratory (Penn State ARL) which is an integral component within the university structure. ARL has been a U.S. Navy university affiliated research lab for over 60 years. The Director of INLDT reports to the Director of ARL.
 
Question
In what specific research areas does the INLDT work?
Answer
The INLDT provides a fair number of research services and support to the non-lethal technology community, both military and law enforcement. Among them are activities that fall within what is called the Human Effects Advisory Panel or HEAP. The HEAPs are independent bodies of experts that review and assess non-lethal weapons projects and initiatives to determine the validity of their project plan, their testing and their developmental approach as they relate to the objective of achieving a repeatable human effect with non-lethal effect. In addition to the HEAP work, INLDT does hands-on research, development and testing in the areas of acoustics and other directed energy, advanced materials, blunt impact, and modeling. The INLDT is also engaged with the law enforcement community in assisting in the determination of testing and operational standards as they relate to less-lethal technologies (law enforcement term for non-lethal weapons). The INLDT provides support as well to education and training needs of the military and law enforcement and has worked to developed courseware that can be delivered through distance learning media (web-based Penn State World Campus) and on-site instruction at military schools and colleges. Finally, the INLDT supports the homeland security activities within ARL and the university as a whole. This has been accomplished through research into chemical agent detection and electronic intelligence technologies, along with security and vulnerability assessments of specific facilites.
 
Question
What are non-lethal weapons?
Answer
The term "Non-lethal Weapon" has evolved to include more than what are traditionally thought of as crowd control devices. They include a broad range of technologies designed to modify an individual's motivation or behavior (e.g., single aggressors and barricaded suspects), manage crowds (e.g., non-compliant groups and serious public disorder), support custody/corrections operations (e.g., prisoner disorder and prison riots), and conduct specialized operations (e.g., vehicle pursuit and hostage rescue). Additionally, these technologies support law enforcement and military applications in the areas of area and site security, disruption of infrastructure, barriers and area denial, and denying the use of equipment or materials.
 
Question
Does the INLDT work or support private industry?
Answer
Not very often. The INLDT has typically served as a trusted agent or advisor to the government through its research projects. That is in line with the traditional role that the Applied Research Laboratory (ARL) at Penn State has played with the U.S. Navy for over 6 decades. In order to preserve that independence and "honest broker" perspective, the INLDT does not directly assist industry in the development of thier technologies. That said, if the INLDT develops a prototype solution to an operational requirement provided by a research sponsor, and that technology is approved by the sponsor, an effort would be made to identify a commercial company that could bring the prototype into production. It is important to note that collaboration with an industrial partner is not completely ruled out and in some circumstances a contractual arrangement can be established whereby the company would perform work for the INLDT, and if necessary internal firewalls can be established to maintain and protect our trusted agent status.
 
Question
Does the INLDT perform classified research?
Answer
Yes. The majority of the the projects currently underway through the INLDT are unclassified.
 
Question
Can I get a copy of an INLDT or HEAP report?
Answer
Since the vast majority of INLDT work is performed under contract to the U.S. government, the products, including reports and prototypes, are the property of the government. Release of reports funded by the government must be obtained from the government office who hss the sole authority for approving their release to the public.
 
Question
What is "OC" Spray?
Answer
Oleoresin Capsicum. Also known as 'pepper spray'. OC is derived from the extract of the capsicum pepper plant. It is made completely from organic materials and is FDA-approved for sale over-the-counter in the United States. OC causes severe and immediate burning sensation to mucous membranes when sprayed into face, nose, and eyes.
 
Question
What is a HEMI device?
Answer
HEMI stands for Human Electro-Muscular Incapacitation. HEMI devices are intended to generate a charge, which allows (through darts/wires or direct contact) current to pass to the targeted individual and into the body. The electrical current causes an involuntary contraction of skeletal muscles. When the current is repeatedly pulsed at a fast enough rate, repeated muscle contractions occur and the body loses posture for the duration of the stimulus.
 
Question
Are there different types of HEMI Devices?
Answer
Yes. A variety of HEMI devices have been developed and used by the law enforcement community since the 1970s. Today, the HEMI devices used by US military forces and many law enforcement agencies are the M26 Taser, introduced in 2001 and X26 Taser, introduced in 2003.