Science adds another deadly edge to high-power weaponry. War is hell, and it’s just gotten a few degrees hotter. The days of simply ducking behind an overturned Hummer to keep from getting your head shot off may soon be over. Possibly inspired by a Wile E. Coyote cartoon (or the 1980s Tom Selleck film Runaway), researchers Red Jones and Brian Kast from Sandia National Laboratories have created a smart bullet capable of steering itself right to its target. The prototype projectile is about 4” long and contains optical sensors in its nose along with guidance and control electronics. It doesn’t spin like a regular bullet, but flies itself with tiny fins controlled by actuators. While traditional bullets can veer up to 29’ over the course of a mile, this smart bullet can strike within a few inches of its point of aim. “As the bullet files through the air, it pitches and yaws at a set rate based on its mass and size,” Jones explained in a press release. “The natural body frequency of this bullet is 30 Hz, so we can make corrections 30 times per second. That means we can overcorrect, so we don’t have to be as precise each time.”
Red Jones and Brian Kast from Sandia National Laboratories have created a smart bullet capable of steering itself right to its target.
Sandia says that with commercially available gunpowder, the bullet will travel at speeds of 2,400 feet per second. But with customized gunpowder, it could travel at military speeds. Field tests have demonstrated its accuracy and proved the bullet’s electronics and battery can survive the trauma of flying from gun barrel to target. Though, at a presumed cost of over $100 per shell, the taxpayers may feel the real trauma.