It was only a matter of time before somebody made a self-guided bullet and that time is now.
Two researchers at Sandia National Laboratories, Red Jones and Brian Kast, have invented a “dart-like, self-guided bullet for small-caliber, smooth-bore firearms” that have the ability to hit laser-designated targets from over a mile away.
“We have a very promising technology to guide small projectiles that could be fully developed inexpensively and rapidly,” Jones said.
The research lab is currently seeking a private company partner to complete testing and bring the guided bullet to the marketplace.
The researchers have found initial success testing the bullet in computer simulations and prototypes built with commercially available parts.
The design of the four-inch-long bullet is equipped with an optical sensor in the nose to detect a laser beam on a potential target. The sensor sends collected information to an 8-bit processor that uses an algorithm to steer tiny fins that guide the bullet to the target.
The researchers claim that the bullet flies straight due to its aerodynamic design. The bullet has a center of gravity that sits forward with tiny fins that enable it to fly without spin.
Computer simulations showed a normal bullet missing a target from more than a half-mile away by more than 9.8 yards. The guided bullet could get within 8 inches according to the simulations.
The inherent advantage over guided missiles is that the bullet can be over-steered and still hit its target. A guided missile must be controlled through very precise means. The person firing the guided bullet can make trajectory corrections 30 times per second.
The bullet can currently reach speeds of 2,400 feet per second using commercially available gunpowder. The team feels that they can match standard military speeds with custom gunpowder.
The researchers filmed the bullet equipped with an LED and fired it at night to test its ability to move throughout the air after being fired. They found that the bullet became easier to control the longer it stayed airborne. This greatly increased accuracy over long distances and allows the bullet to perform trick flying as seen in the lead image.
Potential customers for the bullet unsurprisingly include the military, law enforcement and recreational shooters.
[Images courtesy of Sandia Labs]