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The Military Technology

Self-Guided Bullet Can Hit Targets a Mile Away 421

Posted by Soulskill
from the just-in-case-you're-too-lazy-to-walk-over-there dept.
New submitter jpwilliams writes "Gizmag reports that researchers at Sandia National Laboratories have tested a 10-centimeter bullet that can be fired from a smooth-bore rifle to hit a laser-marked target one mile away. The bullet 'includes an optical sensor in the nose to detect a laser beam on a target. The sensor sends information to guidance and control electronics that use an algorithm in an eight-bit central processing unit to command electromagnetic actuators. These actuators steer tiny fins that guide the bullet to the target.' Interestingly, accuracy improves with targets that are further away, because 'the bullet's motions settle the longer it is in flight.'"
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Self-Guided Bullet Can Hit Targets a Mile Away

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  • Hmmmmm (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Interesting. If you were looking for gun.nut and came to slashdot by mistake.

  • by avandesande (143899) on Tuesday January 31, 2012 @07:41PM (#38883983) Journal

    Sounds more like a dart than a bullet.

    • by ackthpt (218170) on Tuesday January 31, 2012 @07:43PM (#38884011) Homepage Journal

      Sounds more like a dart than a bullet.

      The real trick is training the sharks to fire the rifles.

    • Re:Dart Maybe? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by squidflakes (905524) on Tuesday January 31, 2012 @07:51PM (#38884141) Homepage

      Sounds more like it is laser-guided than self-guided too.

    • by noh8rz2 (2538714)
      Can't snipers already hit a target a mile out, without needing million dollar bullets?
      • Re:Dart Maybe? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by bamwham (1211702) on Tuesday January 31, 2012 @08:14PM (#38884469)
        But it costs money (no idea how much) to train that sniper, and if they are injured you've lost their value. Whereas if the guy using this gun is injured the person next to them can pick it up and use it. Not an expert of course...
        • Re:Dart Maybe? (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Talderas (1212466) on Wednesday February 01, 2012 @09:13AM (#38890145)

          The training of a sniper is not just in shooting. The USMC Scout Sniper school has three areas of training. Marksmanship is the one that people most immediately associate with a sniper. Observation is the second area of training. Stalking is the third area. This laser guided bullet won't replace a sniper since all it does is replace the marksmanship factor of a sniper. That of course assumes that the system is no heavier than the equipment a scout-sniper team would already take with them and doesn't significantly increase their profile. Scout-snipers will still operate in 2 man teams behind enemy lines and such operatives are still going to have to be highly trained to accomplish the task and if anything, such a system would not want to be used by scout-snipers precisely because we wouldn't want that system to fall into enemy hands.

          I don't believe this system is useful from a battlefield perspective. This seems more like a system the CIA would be interested in for usage in an urban environment.

      • by chill (34294) on Tuesday January 31, 2012 @08:19PM (#38884517) Journal

        In the gaming universe this is known as an "aim bot", and is routinely derided as a hack for no-skill n00bs.

        It should be popular.

  • Of course, the laser (even IR) will give away the spotter's position. This is no sniper weapon. I wonder, then, what applications the technology does have.

    • by ackthpt (218170)

      Of course, the laser (even IR) will give away the spotter's position. This is no sniper weapon. I wonder, then, what applications the technology does have.

      So don't be all day about it - aim and fire and let the bullet do the rest of the work, that's what it's for.

      • by dotancohen (1015143) on Tuesday January 31, 2012 @07:53PM (#38884169) Homepage

        So don't be all day about it - aim and fire and let the bullet do the rest of the work, that's what it's for.

        The 'other side' already has someone with night-vision goggles scanning for muzzle flashes of sniper weapons. He will easily see the IR laser too. In fact, that laser will give him a short warning that a sniper is about to fire. At 1.5 kilometers range, a second's warning is enough to yell "down" so nobody's torso is in the same place that it was when the trigger was pulled.

        • by Qzukk (229616)

          nobody's torso is in the same place that it was when the trigger was pulled.

          As long as the guy with the laser can keep the laser on you, that's not going to help a lot.

          • As long as the guy with the laser can keep the laser on you, that's not going to help a lot.

            How about an LED decoy thrown to the side?

            You do bring up an interesting point, though. Who is responsible for the kill, the guy pulling the trigger or the guy pressing the button on the laser?

        • by noh8rz2 (2538714)
          No, the only way you would see the origination point of the laser is if it were pointed directly at your goggles. Otherwise you can't tell where the laser scope is situated.
          • That's the theory, but practice is frequently something else entirely. Is there any haze, dust, smoke, humidity -- basically any particulates -- in the air? That will scatter the laser light.

            A guy I knew recently was showing off with a high-powered laser he picked up somewhere. It was pretty awesome -- he was lighting up mountaintops roughly a mile away. However, I was very surprised to see that there was a very clear, very distinct line from his laser to whatever target he was pointing it at. There
        • Can't you put a hood on a laser so that it would only be visible within a vary narrow angular range? You can't really do that with a muzzle flash.
          • by RMingin (985478)

            Actually, you can do exactly that. Most wouldn't bother fully concealing the muzzle flash, but a flash suppressor does the meaningful percentages of that job.

    • by Troggie87 (1579051) on Tuesday January 31, 2012 @07:56PM (#38884215)

      Application? How about an overhead drone carrying a payload thats roughly the same weight as now, except instead of blowing things up it just shoots you in the face. You dont have to carry a huge amount of munitions when 95% of the bullets will hit the target.

      From now on, whenever you see a new military technology you should think about how it works with drones. For example, it probably isnt a coincidence that our new magnetic launch systems on carriers will allow lighter, more fragile aircraft (read, composite drones) to be launched. The official line is it does less damage to tradition aircraft, which it does. But the guys calling the shots on this stuff make war for a living, and the writing is on the wall as far as the future goes. "Lighter. Cheaper. Disposable"

    • Hunting.

    • by Hentai (165906) on Tuesday January 31, 2012 @08:02PM (#38884305) Homepage Journal

      This is absolutely a sniper weapon. It's just not a sniper weapon to be used against prepared military assets.

      It'd do a fine job of assassinating unprepared civilian targets, though.

    • Maybe no good in the traditional sniper role but if this weapon ever gets to the point where it has an effective range that's much greater than any small arms fire then it will have a new role all of its own. That role will be called "shoot the Taliban and laugh at the counter fire".

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      A) there doesn't need to be a human at the laser's position, it could be pointed by robot.

      B) the laser doesn't need to be continuous. You could PWM it with a small duty cycle and a decreasing aperiodic frequency, at the sacrifice of accuracy.

  • Really? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Daetrin (576516) on Tuesday January 31, 2012 @07:44PM (#38884029)
    Personally i don't believe it. A mile away? They probably couldn't hit an elephant at that dist
    • Just remember to keep your head down at all times . . .

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Longest_recorded_sniper_kills

      Of course, they weren't aiming at elephants . . .

    • A mile away is 5280 feet or 1760 yards. Even during WW2, German snipers were killing American soldiers from 1000 yards, and the world record sniper shot during war time is currently two human targets at 2707 yards.

    • by hawk (1151)

      But who would have thought that *snipers* of all people would have to worry about becoming obsolete due to new technology . . .

      Next: a self-administering poison . . .

      hawk

      • by ackthpt (218170)

        But who would have thought that *snipers* of all people would have to worry about becoming obsolete due to new technology . . .

        Next: a self-administering poison . . .

        hawk

        I'm thinking along the lines of .. you can make a rifle that fires a 10 inche laser guided bullet. Um. Why not just make a laser rifle?

    • IR chaff - IR LED throwies are cheap compared to these bullets and will be brighter than any IR laser (that you can't actually feel as 'hot')

    • by Dahamma (304068)

      Your post whooshing over the head of all of the replies must make you feel a bit like Gen. Sedgwick right now!

  • Sweet! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by bondsbw (888959) on Tuesday January 31, 2012 @07:45PM (#38884037)

    Since soldiers will be using this, I can enable auto-aim without being called a noob.

  • by DigiShaman (671371) on Tuesday January 31, 2012 @07:45PM (#38884049) Homepage

    Where's the Tom Selleck slashdot icon when you need it

    • by ackthpt (218170)

      Where's the Tom Selleck slashdot icon when you need it

      Thinking of Quigley Down Under, myself. See guy running away. Prop rifle on a rock. Fiddle with site. Look through it at guy still running away. Pull trigger. Guy still running .. still running .. then falls down.

  • Congratulations. You've invented the laser guided missile launcher.
    • by chromas (1085949) on Tuesday January 31, 2012 @07:53PM (#38884161)
      I was thinking Bullet Bill.
    • by ackthpt (218170)

      Congratulations. You've invented the laser guided missile launcher.

      *facepalm*

      Nano-missile, thank you.

      This is Slashdot, after all.

      • by tmosley (996283)
        10 cm is hardly nano. More regular than anything. You could call it a "centi-missile" if you must, but that particular buzzword probably lost its buzz factor in the 1300's.
    • by cmburns69 (169686)

      Congratulations. You've invented the laser guided missile launcher.

      Technically, it's a ballistic missile since it doesn't carry it's own fuel. A laser guided ballistic missile launcher. Sounds cool!

  • by terraStorm24 (1752736) on Tuesday January 31, 2012 @07:46PM (#38884063)
    If everything went metric we wouldn't have these problems. The bullet is 10cm not 10in.
  • At least the article says that the dart is 4 inches or 10 centimeters, not 10 inches. (IE it's a little smaller than the 120mm canon the M1 uses.)
    • by Dahamma (304068)

      Good god no. It's 4 inches *long*, not wide. Caliber = diameter. From the picture it looks no more than .45 caliber (11.5mm).

      If you are going to fire a 100mm shell at someone you don't need quite that pinpoint accuracy ;)

  • Farther (Score:3, Informative)

    by oodaloop (1229816) on Tuesday January 31, 2012 @07:46PM (#38884075)

    accuracy improves with targets that are further away,

    Farther. Actual distance is farther. Metaphorical distance is further, like furthering one's goals. Thanks, I feel better now.

  • High Tech (Score:5, Funny)

    by Dr. Eggman (932300) on Tuesday January 31, 2012 @07:47PM (#38884079)
    At last, our technology is starting to catch up to 1940s cartoons! I can't wait for my portable hole...
    • by OzPeter (195038)

      At last, our technology is starting to catch up to 1940s cartoons! I can't wait for my portable hole...

      Yeah .. but just watch out for the Rabbit in drag.

  • Terminology (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 31, 2012 @07:48PM (#38884099)

    smooth-bore rifle

    "Smooth-bore" and "rifle" are mutually-exclusive terms. Pick one.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Nidi62 (1525137)

      smooth-bore rifle

      "Smooth-bore" and "rifle" are mutually-exclusive terms. Pick one.

      Except in common usage, "rifle" has come to mean any type of long gun, whether or not the barrel has rifling. In any case, what other, easy to use term would you use for a modern long gun. Musket wouldn't apply, and those are the only other shoulder arms that use smooth bores. You are just being overly pedantic.

  • .50cal snipers have some serious kick and that's about a 4 inch bullet. This is at the high end of what a personal weapon can fire. Increase its size by 2.5x and you no longer have a rifle you have an anti aircraft bullet. At the rate obesity is going the next generation might just be able to handle the recoil from a 10in anti aircraft shell........
  • My story title was: The Future of War... and Assassination!

    (I think it was the word Assassination that got the slashdot editors to remove it from the "recent" listings. It was on the "recent" listings one second at "yellow" and then *poof* gone! Do they think various government agaencies don't approve of such topics?). Anyway, here's what I wrote:

    "From TFA: "This self-guided bullet can chase you down from over a mile away"

    A long LONG time ago, I remember reading something that claimed that in every succe

  • Smooth bore rifle? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by sconeu (64226) on Tuesday January 31, 2012 @07:55PM (#38884213) Homepage Journal

    Isn't that an oxymoron?

  • by Jethro (14165) on Tuesday January 31, 2012 @07:59PM (#38884265) Homepage

    I've been watching season 4 of Chuck and just saw this episode. We have nothing to worry about, the CIA will have no problem recovering the bullets. Also the female CIA agent will develop a severe clothing allergy half-way through.

  • just less of a boom.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laser-guided_bomb [wikipedia.org]

  • I'm guessing every enlisted sniper will be begging his commander for one of these. Especially this guy [wikipedia.org].

    Very scary.
  • Nice tech! I think I saw the same movie these guys did, Runaway [imdb.com] with wall climbing robotic killer spiders, and self guiding bullets from handguns, and Tom Selleck!

    Damn I hate wall climbing robotic killer spiders... Those must be next :/

    Well as long as they don't make a self guiding robotic Tom Selleck, I think we will be OK.

  • by Nidi62 (1525137) on Tuesday January 31, 2012 @08:26PM (#38884593)
    If you look at the final video in the article, this thing isn't even really a bullet. All it is is a scaled-down KE sabot round of the type fired by tanks as an anti-tank round. This is especially true when you consider it is fired from a smooth-bore, as pretty much all modern tanks use smooth-bore cannon as well. It's almost as if they took the 2 main weapons of the modern Western MBT (sabot round and a Hellfire missile), combined them, and shrunk it down for use against personnel. I think it would be interesting to see what type of rifles they would use to fire this round. Would the design and specifications of this round require the development of a new weapon system, or can existing sniper rifles be modified by changing out the barrels from rifled to smooth-bore?
  • by Animats (122034) on Wednesday February 01, 2012 @01:39AM (#38887563) Homepage

    Many people have commented that 10cm is up there in artillery-shell caliber. This new bullet is 10cm long. The pictures show something that's in a typical small-arms caliber, probably 9mm or smaller. It will require a special gun that can chamber an unusually long cartridge, but not an artillery piece.

    The real win with this thing will be hitting moving targets. No more estimating range and leading the target. Just keep pointed at it. Sighting and designator system that can lock onto a target already exist, and shrinking them down to rifle-scope size isn't all that hard. There's more video processing going on in any modern video camera or phone.

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