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Laser-Guided Smart Bullet Prototype

A testable prototype of Sandia National Laboratory's smart bullet is almost ready.


(Sandia Laser-Guided Smart Bullet prototype diagram)

An infrared laser illuminates a target, which the bulletís optical sensors follow. An onboard tracking chip calculates the course corrections, carried out by four actuator-controlled fins on the bulletís body. The end result, says Larry Shipers, manager of system technologies at Sandia, is a bullet that could improve its shooterís marksmanship by 98 percent, at distances between 1 and 2 kilometers. 


Shipers says the technology has already cleared a hurdle that experts had said couldnít be overcome: the survival of the battery and chip, despite their being fired out of a .50-caliber rifle. Launch tests found that the munitionís innards did indeed stand up to the crushing 120 000 g-force acceleration and 344.7 megapascals (50 000 pounds per square inch) of pressure as the bullet comes hurtling out of the barrel. The next step is to find a commercial partner that can turn the ideas now being bench-tested into a field-ready bullet. 


Fans of Michael Crichton's 1984 movie Runaway recall the smart bullets, five-inch fire-and-forget self-tracking bullet-missiles.


(Smart bullet dissected)

"Jack, look at this. The back half is all solid propellant. Valves for directional control ... look, it's all electronic."

Via IEEE Spectrum.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 5/26/2012)

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