Manuel Fustes said to meet him on the Capital Beltway. He would be parked on the shoulder, he said, about a half mile south of the Route 214 (Central Avenue) exit in Prince George's County.

He was there, all right, sitting in a Ford Taurus station wagon. In the rear cargo bay was what appeared to be a big box, covered with a blue blanket.

With cars and trucks whizzing by, Fustes opened the back and pulled off the blanket to reveal a device he hopes to sell to area law enforcement officials.

Say hello to . . . PhotoCop!

No, not Robocop, the bionic police officer who hunted down criminals in a 1987 motion picture and a 1990 sequel. PhotoCop is a mechanical wizard -- bulletproof, too -- that stalks highway speeders with radar and snaps pictures of their vehicles to turn over to the police to issue tickets.

Within the next year, federal and state officials are expected to decide whether to combine radar and photography on the 64-mile Beltway and other area highways.

PhotoCop is one of about six devices being tested this summer, and perhaps the best known. It's being used in Pasadena, Calif., and two small Arizona cities. Washington area officials are wide open about using photo radar and which device to select.

The way it works says something about how far technology has come and the degree to which Americans may be willing to employ that technology to achieve certain social goals, such as getting drivers to ease up on the gas pedal.

"What you want to do with this {PhotoCop} is modify driver behavior," explained Fustes, 44, who got the idea for PhotoCop by observing Spanish authorities photograph careless drivers. Fustes now lives in the Houston area.

PhotoCop consists of a radar device, a 70mm Hasselblad camera and a video camera.

Fustes turns the unit 22 1/2 degrees so the lenses of the cameras and the radar beam angle across all four southbound Beltway lanes. The radar, which takes about 100 readings of a vehicle's speed as it passes, emits a low-power beam that cannot be seen.

Using a portable computer, Fustes tells PhotoCop to take pictures of vehicles traveling above 66 miles an hour (the posted speed limit on the Beltway is 55). A TV monitor shows what PhotoCop sees: the four southbound lanes. Also displayed are the speeds of passing vehicles.

PhotoCop starts doing its thing. Click. Flash. Click. Flash.

"There, I got one! See? That red truck right over there," Fustes said as PhotoCop began clicking furiously, at another point nabbing a Maryland state trooper.

In 15 minutes, PhotoCop recorded 630 vehicles and took pictures of 42 probable speeders. Sixteen pictures were deemed unusable because vehicles were clustered and it was impossible to pick out the culprit.

When developed, the pictures show the front of the vehicle, including its license tag, the driver and any passengers. The camera also imprints the speed, date, time, officer badge number and location. The ticket goes out in the mail, but the picture is kept for courtroom use.

PhotoCop doesn't stop there. The unit also stores the speeds of nearby vehicles so that authorities can measure how fast the alleged violator was going in relation to them.

"This way if someone claims to the judge, 'I was just going what everyone else was,' you can come back and say, 'Uh-uh, Sherlock,' " Fustes said.

Just in case there's still some doubt, PhotoCop's video camera tapes the scene. PhotoCop can't be picked up on radar detectors, either.

Although Fustes didn't have it set up, there's also a digital speed display panel that tells the driver what he was clocked at, a not-so-funny variation of Olympic scores being flashed to participants.

PhotoCop's obvious selling point is that it is capable of issuing more tickets than a police officer, who is limited by the difficulty and time spent pulling over speeders.

Fustes also wants law enforcement officials to install phantom PhotoCops on Beltway overpasses, signs and the roadside to give drivers the illusion that PhotoCop is everywhere.

Critics of devices such as PhotoCop say Fustes has created a monster that intrudes on drivers' privacy. Virginia State Police prefer pictures of the license plate from the rear that wouldn't show passengers.

"There's no increase in Big Brotherism," Fustes said. "If the National Enquirer can take pictures of people and print them, the police should be able to take pictures."

This analogy, combining PhotoCop and the National Enquirer, leads to some interesting headline possibilities: "Elvis Photographed Doing 80 MPH on Beltway in UFO!"