DARPA Creates Bullet That Can Think For Itself, Change Course Mid-Flight

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DARPA Creates Bullet That Can Think For Itself, Change Course Mid-Flight

Just like the movies, soldiers will soon be able to "curve" their bullets.

Remember that ridiculous Angelina Jolie movie where people could "curve" bullets by flicking their wrists? We all had a good chuckle at that one, and MythBusters even completely buried the very idea, but now, the military scientists at DARPA have proved that once again, sometimes fact is stranger than fiction. Introducing the "Extreme Accuracy Tasked Ordinance" (EXACTO) - a bullet that can think for itself, and adjust its course mid-flight.

This year, DARPA successfully tested the ordinance in a standard .50 cal. variant, meaning it can be easily deployed and used by everyday soldiers on the field without any additional training. The tech behind the bullet is somewhat similar to what's used for laser-guided bombs - it uses optical sensors in its nose to gather in-flight information and internal electronic systems that control the projectile's fins (which are deployed mid-flight) and guide the bullet to its intended location.

In the video test above, it's shown how the projectile homes in on its intended target by having the shooter aim deliberately to the right. If this technology hits our military, snipers may not have to worry about shot-effecting environmental concerns (such as wind strength and bullet drop) on those must-hit shots.

It's a crazy example of the things scientists can come up with, and should help to ensure US soldiers can carry out their missions unhindered.

Although I have to admit, the concept of a bullet that can chase you is a little bit terrifying.

Source: Business Insider

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Seems like it would be too expensive to equip every soldier with these. Most likely they will end up with snipers or other special units.

We really can't stop thinking up better and better ways of killing each other, can we?

Bigeyez:
Seems like it would be too expensive to equip every soldier with these. Most likely they will end up with snipers or other special units.

Yeah, I figure we'll be sticking with our "fire and maneuver" doctrine for regular infantry for now. But this could allow for a greater number of sniper deployments when the bullet itself is taking some of the difficulty out of making a shot.

RedEyesBlackGamer:
We really can't stop thinking up better and better ways of killing each other, can we?

Until we all agree on a species-wide level to stop... well, as Thomas Jefferson never actually said: "Those who beat their guns into plowshares will plow for those who have not."

Bigeyez:
Seems like it would be too expensive to equip every soldier with these. Most likely they will end up with snipers or other special units.

Yeah, snipers would definitely be the ideal way to deploy this in a man-portable form. Military snipers always work in two-man teams with one shooter and one spotter. With this sort of tech, the spotter could actually lase the target to guide in the shooter's bullet.

Other than that, I could definitely see a use for this sort of thing on vehicle mounted guns. There's all sorts of potentially crazy applications. Like, take the A-10. Imagine if you had a guy on the ground (or even another A-10 or UAV up in the air) laser-pointing individual targets. All the A-10 has to do is shoot in the general direction and the rounds are going to home right on in.

I have to wonder what this sort of system does for penetrating power though. With all that weaving to get on target, the bullet is probably going to lose a good bit of velocity in the process. It could mean that this sort of thing is really only suited for soft or lightly-armored targets.

I'm surprised we haven't seen this used for more squad level indirect fire munitions. Laser guided mortars? Imagine, rather than training and deploying a specialist crew, just have a guy near the target fire the tube roughly in the right direction, and have the forward controller lasing in the mortar target.

As for these guiding rounds, cost may not be as bad as you would think. I'm not saying the bullet is cheap if you let regular old riflemen fire them off, but consider all the thousands of rounds on average that are shot that don't hit anything. Might not make it that much more of an expensive idea, especially considering logistical savings on all those rounds you now didn't have to transport.

Looks pretty awesome and kind of scary.

Bigeyez:
Seems like it would be too expensive to equip every soldier with these. Most likely they will end up with snipers or other special units.

I would think this is only for snipers or something shooting from a far distance. Looks like there is substantial travel time in the video, meaning it's shot from real far away. I would think that it would be useless for targets that can be seen in a standard military issue scope.

So, it's just that laser guided bullet they've been playing with for ages? Fancy, but they've been mucking about with it for years.

Chefsbrian:
As for these guiding rounds, cost may not be as bad as you would think. I'm not saying the bullet is cheap if you let regular old riflemen fire them off, but consider all the thousands of rounds on average that are shot that don't hit anything. Might not make it that much more of an expensive idea, especially considering logistical savings on all those rounds you now didn't have to transport.

Snipers don't use anything like that amount of bullets, though, and not every soldier can be a sniper.

Oh goody, now all they need to do is get some twisted nutter in the intelligence services to invent a way for it to track and target you via your mobile phone and CCTV and we can enjoy all the dystopian fun of science fiction in the real world! Seriously, I thought the point of these kinds of episodes(no really, this exact thing, Almost Human episode) was to show us what a terrible bloody idea this kind of thing is, not be an idea pot-luck for government mad scientists.

Chefsbrian:
I'm surprised we haven't seen this used for more squad level indirect fire munitions. Laser guided mortars? Imagine, rather than training and deploying a specialist crew, just have a guy near the target fire the tube roughly in the right direction, and have the forward controller lasing in the mortar target.

As for these guiding rounds, cost may not be as bad as you would think. I'm not saying the bullet is cheap if you let regular old riflemen fire them off, but consider all the thousands of rounds on average that are shot that don't hit anything. Might not make it that much more of an expensive idea, especially considering logistical savings on all those rounds you now didn't have to transport.

That sort of thing is kind of on the way. http://media.defenceindustrydaily.com/images/AIR_UAV_Switchblade_Launch_AV_lg.jpg The Switchblade is basically a remote-controlled suicide-drone launched from a mortar tube. You just fly it on into whatever you want to blow up. It's only a matter of time until stuff like that becomes automated, or you just, lob them up into the air to loiter around until you need to call one down to take out a target.

Self-guided artillery rounds are very much a thing as well. The big breakthrough with this bullet is shrinking it down into something as small as a .50cal.

Man... I'm all for guns, but yeah, cancer first people.

Do they look like this?


Definitely, these will be a powerful sniper weapon. Still, for infantry, the bullets with proximity fuses and explode into shrapnel are the ones that could make for a better tool in areas with a lot of cover.

rcs619:
That sort of thing is kind of on the way. http://media.defenceindustrydaily.com/images/AIR_UAV_Switchblade_Launch_AV_lg.jpg The Switchblade is basically a remote-controlled suicide-drone launched from a mortar tube. You just fly it on into whatever you want to blow up. It's only a matter of time until stuff like that becomes automated, or you just, lob them up into the air to loiter around until you need to call one down to take out a target.

Self-guided artillery rounds are very much a thing as well. The big breakthrough with this bullet is shrinking it down into something as small as a .50cal.

Funny you should mention that things will become automated and loiter. That idea has been around at least since the height of the Cold War. Just with something big and nasty. (Today things will probably just be smaller and easier to deploy.)

Project Pluto was an insane idea from the late 50s that would have a unmanned ramjet, powered by a nuclear reactor, be able to launch, go across the ocean below radar cover, and loiter for months if necessary until it received orders for where to drop its multiple nuclear bombs. If it wasn't for ICBMs becoming viable, these fallout spewing nightmares could have roared across the oceans any time the Doomsday Clock got close to midnight, like the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Ark of the Covetor:
Oh goody, now all they need to do is get some twisted nutter in the intelligence services to invent a way for it to track and target you via your mobile phone and CCTV and we can enjoy all the dystopian fun of science fiction in the real world! Seriously, I thought the point of these kinds of episodes(no really, this exact thing, Almost Human episode) was to show us what a terrible bloody idea this kind of thing is, not be an idea pot-luck for government mad scientists.

Won't work for bullets, but they can most likely do that already with a fancy set up, a UAV, and a hellfire missile. Especially if you don't mind not getting the right target the first few times.

Hairless Mammoth:
Still, for infantry, the bullets with proximity fuses and explode into shrapnel are the ones that could make for a better tool in areas with a lot of cover.

I think you are describing a somewhat fancy grenade there.

thaluikhain:

Hairless Mammoth:
Still, for infantry, the bullets with proximity fuses and explode into shrapnel are the ones that could make for a better tool in areas with a lot of cover.

I think you are describing a somewhat fancy grenade there.

Pretty much. It was from a future weapons special I watched a few years ago. The rifle has a range finder/manual range input that programs the bullets in the magazine. If a soldier finds an enemy behind a corner or crouched/lying below cover, he programs the system and fires beside/above the obstacle. The bullets explode like fragmentation grenades when they reach the set range. I forgot what calibers they were developing for, though. Fancy indeed.

Hairless Mammoth:

thaluikhain:

Hairless Mammoth:
Still, for infantry, the bullets with proximity fuses and explode into shrapnel are the ones that could make for a better tool in areas with a lot of cover.

I think you are describing a somewhat fancy grenade there.

Pretty much. It was from a future weapons special I watched a few years ago. The rifle has a range finder/manual range input that programs the bullets in the magazine. If a soldier finds an enemy behind a corner or crouched/lying below cover, he programs the system and fires beside/above the obstacle. The bullets explode like fragmentation grenades when they reach the set range. I forgot what calibers they were developing for, though. Fancy indeed.

Oh that, 20mm bullpup grenade launcher with underslung assault carbine:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S%26T_Daewoo_K11

Most interestingly (at least for me), is that this is already standard issue (albeit in small numbers) for RoK forces. Not sci-fi, they've had them for a few years now.

I'd heard that the US tried 20mm grenades and felt they weren't big enough, though. OTOH, the FRAG12 shotgun shell is about the same size. Maybe put a time/proximity fuse on them and fire off a burst instead of just one.

A 50call guided missile? Neat - we're one step closer to the Judge Doom guns :)

rcs619:

Other than that, I could definitely see a use for this sort of thing on vehicle mounted guns. There's all sorts of potentially crazy applications. Like, take the A-10. Imagine if you had a guy on the ground (or even another A-10 or UAV up in the air) laser-pointing individual targets. All the A-10 has to do is shoot in the general direction and the rounds are going to home right on in.

The problem with this is that the cost-per-bullet will be astronomical in comparison to old bullets. while the 3 billion dollar budget sure can afford it, this is going to be like the protective exoskeletons. fully in working order, but deemed too expensive to deploy. its cheaper to replace a wounded solder apparently.

So now we give Aimbot to our future Robot-overlords? Didn't they have that by definition already?
By Side, the better movie comparison would be The Fifth Element, which had this exact Bullet.

Reminds of the grenade(?) that has a programmable distance fuse. You laserpoint the wall and set it to explode like a meter beyond that point and shoot the grenade above the wall.

webkilla:
A 50call guided missile? Neat - we're one step closer to the Judge Doom guns :)

The Lawgiver is the name of Judge Dredd's gun.

RedEyesBlackGamer:
We really can't stop thinking up better and better ways of killing each other, can we?

It's basically humanity's racial sport. Problem is, we've been doing it for so long and we've gotten so good at it that we can't really do it anymore because that would mean total annihilation for us. And like a child with his favourite toy taken away, we're basically sulking now. Having warettes to satisfy the craving.

Strazdas:

rcs619:

Other than that, I could definitely see a use for this sort of thing on vehicle mounted guns. There's all sorts of potentially crazy applications. Like, take the A-10. Imagine if you had a guy on the ground (or even another A-10 or UAV up in the air) laser-pointing individual targets. All the A-10 has to do is shoot in the general direction and the rounds are going to home right on in.

The problem with this is that the cost-per-bullet will be astronomical in comparison to old bullets. while the 3 billion dollar budget sure can afford it, this is going to be like the protective exoskeletons. fully in working order, but deemed too expensive to deploy. its cheaper to replace a wounded solder apparently.

Mass-production would make this cheaper
But still not so cheap to shoot from billion-rounds-per-second-miniguns
So I agree that A-10 most probably won't be loaded with such ammo

Mu issue is with penetrative capabilities of said bullet
To pierce armor bullet need 3 things- energy, mass and strength
Energy is clear (its .50BMG after all)
Mass is questionable but manageable (if bullet is too light just put heavy metals where possible)
What is improbable is strength- I really doubt that camera-tip is strong enough to slice through vehicular armor
And given advanced armor plates (like Cryron for example) eventually will be in vests, soon even soldiers will be protected well enough to withstand hit from such bullet.

So only thing I see this bullet good for is assassinations

They keep talking about "Wanted", but really this made me think about the old Tom Selleck movie "Runaway", where the bad guy (who was played by Gene Simmons of "Kiss"...yes seriously) had bullets that would track their targets after you fired them.
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0088024/

Actually a pretty decent movie. Man I miss the 80's.

'Although I have to admit, the concept of a bullet that can chase you is a little bit terrifying.'

Yeah, because idea being shot at with regular rounds is right as rain. :D It was mentioned correctly above this ammo is costly, too costly to influence warfare to any noticeable degree at the moment.

Now there is another thought: how about such ammo in shooter games... given to the enemy NPC? ;)

Awesome! Now we're one step closer to this gun:

Steven Bogos:
Although I have to admit, the concept of a bullet that can chase you is a little bit terrifying.

Well it's not like you could see a bullet coming and dodge it to begin with, so aside from some specialized cases, this won't be any more deadly than a generic 50 cal.

Judge: Did you shoot that man?
Man: Nope the bullet changed direction, i was just target shooting and the bullet just took off with a mind of its own.

Seems like they are storming forward with the non human army. After all, why spend money training a man to shoot well when the bullet can do it itself. I thinking they will attach these to drones and robots as well.

in a few years they'll probably just drop the laser-targeting and have a system that automaticaly aims at people with higher melanin quantities

As interesting as this is, the .50 bmg cartridge will probably be phased out in favor of .338 lapua in the future. It's too heavy to be used as an anti-personal cartridge and too inefficient to be used against vehicles.

And lo, the Dark Age of Technology began. In 100's of millinia to come when Mankind has expanded to the stars and this technologies production is all but forgotten its appearance shall be the deus ex machina of many conflicts between divinely engineered super soldiers and the vast array of dark beings that seek our extinction or enslavement.

Hairless Mammoth:
Roger snip

Kevlar Eater:
Zorg snip

Actually, I'd been thinking of another movie.

Yeah, well, I'm from the 80s. These things happen. Problem is, this ain't cost-effective. Bullets that shoot straight will always be cheaper and needed more often. Bullets that shoot the hell through things instead of around them will STILL be cheaper and needed more often. This idea is neat, but not worth doing.

I wouldn't be so quick to talk about added costs. After all, if more shots accomplish what they were meant to do, that means firing less of them, right?

The other thing is that our mass production capabilities are becoming significantly more effective every year.

weirdee:
I wouldn't be so quick to talk about added costs. After all, if more shots accomplish what they were meant to do, that means firing less of them, right?

I dunno about that. They teach you to shoot straight as per default when you're given a gun in whatever service you're in. What will happen to training if this becomes regular? Will a soldier be able to handle himself when the inevitable bullet-confusing device comes into play? Imagine how this plays out on the battlefield. An enemy who has classic weapons and one blanket jammer device suitable for ruining the guideance for incoming projectiles is the opponent. That technology exists now for missles, which makes it possible to turn a bunch of soldiers aiming where they want to kill eveything to a bunch of guys missing like hell and maybe hurting their own guys while an enemy who always shoots straight attacks them in traditional fashion. I'm not really seeing its mass-application. I think basic training is a more valuable asset.

FalloutJack:
Snip

I see this being used for snipers firing at long ranges.
If you need to hit something 1, 2, 5 miles away I can see it helps a lot if you have a bullet that does all the wind speed and direction and curvature of the earth calculationey things for you so you only need to laserpaint your target's head for a sec. Means you can be in and out of a bad spot much faster. Kind of like an on-the-fly IRL aimbot.

K-lusive:

FalloutJack:
Snip

I see this being used for snipers firing at long ranges.
If you need to hit something 1, 2, 5 miles away I can see it helps a lot if you have a bullet that does all the wind speed and direction and curvature of the earth calculationey things for you so you only need to laserpaint your target's head for a sec. Means you can be in and out of a bad spot much faster. Kind of like an on-the-fly IRL aimbot.

That might be worth doing, something small-scale where that would apply. Though...which is better in terms of cost and use? Guided sniper bullet or guided rocket?

FalloutJack:

weirdee:
I wouldn't be so quick to talk about added costs. After all, if more shots accomplish what they were meant to do, that means firing less of them, right?

I dunno about that. They teach you to shoot straight as per default when you're given a gun in whatever service you're in. What will happen to training if this becomes regular? Will a soldier be able to handle himself when the inevitable bullet-confusing device comes into play? Imagine how this plays out on the battlefield. An enemy who has classic weapons and one blanket jammer device suitable for ruining the guideance for incoming projectiles is the opponent. That technology exists now for missles, which makes it possible to turn a bunch of soldiers aiming where they want to kill eveything to a bunch of guys missing like hell and maybe hurting their own guys while an enemy who always shoots straight attacks them in traditional fashion. I'm not really seeing its mass-application. I think basic training is a more valuable asset.

at the same time, lowering the barrier to entry was what made guns originally more useful than bows despite guns generally taking longer to load back then, since you could hand a gun to a person with less training than somebody that had to have the arm strength and steadiness to use a bow, and then use them to cut down trained soldiers that the enemy would have to scramble to replace. as for "jamming" them, that would depend on how the bullets are tracking the target, and having those countermeasures might be relatively simple, or impractical/too expensive (or in some cases, make them easier targets for other weapons like drone strikes or just plain give their position away), so we don't know what will happen yet.

in any case, since we already have aim assist technology that relies on visual information rather than laser tagging (which will probably be employed in tandem with this technology if it is pursued further), it will be pretty hard to say "well, since this one person is really good at using a gun, they'll be able to outmatch five or ten other people augmented with computers that can aim and fire faster than any human could possibly ever think"

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