The breakthrough comes courtesy of engineers at the government’s Sandia National Laboratories. They’ve successfully tested a prototype of the bullet at distances up to 2,000 meters — more than a mile. The photo above is an actual image taken during one of those tests.
The U.S. military has been after self-guided bullets
for years. Now, government researchers have finally made it happen: a
bullet that can navigate itself a full mile before successfully nailing
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light-emitting diode was attached to the bullet, showing the amazing
pathway that the munition made through the night sky.
The lab’s day-to-day operations are run by an auxiliary of Lockheed
Martin. Of course, Lockheed’s been a longtime partner in the military’s
quest for the ultimate self-guided munition. In 2008, they scored a
$14.5 million contract as part of Darpa’s “Exacto” program, which sought
to develop sniper rifles with guided bullets.
Each self-guided bullet is around 4 inches in length. At the tip is
an optical sensor, that can detect a laser beam being shone on a far-off
target. Actuators inside the bullet get intel from the bullet’s sensor,
and then “steer tiny fins that guide the bullet to the target.” The
bullet can self-correct its navigational path 30 times a second, all while flying more than twice the speed of sound.
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They’ve also been
involved in the agency’s “One Shot” initiative, which is trying to
develop scope-mounted lasers that can help snipers compensate for weather conditions.