Accuracy’s the name of the game when you’re a military sniper. If you fail to acquire a target, you risk the safety of fellow troops by highlighting their presence and potentially giving away their positions. But hitting moving targets is no mean feat when conditions are challenging, for example during shifting winds or poor visibility if the landscape is dusty.
That’s why the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) embarked on a rather ambitious project which set out to develop technology that would “revolutionize rifle accuracy and range,” with the ultimate goal of improving sniper effectiveness and increasing troop safety. And what have they come up with? None other than movie-style, self-guiding bullets that can change course mid-flight.
Their new “Extreme Accuracy Tasked Ordinance” (EXACTO) bullets seem to function in a similar manner to the laser-guided bombs developed by US scientists during the Vietnam War. The technology marries .50 caliber maneuverable bullets with a real-time guidance system that allow the projectile to change direction during flight in order to correct for anything that may throw it off course.
The EXACTO bullets are complete with optical sensors positioned on the surface of the nose that collect in-flight data which is then sent to internal systems for interpretation. The data gathered is then used to adjust the position of a series of external fins on the projectile, which changes its direction.
According to DARPA’s website, the system should “greatly extend the day and nighttime range over current state-of-the-art sniper systems,” minimize the time required to engage with targets, and also reduce misses.
DARPA recently released a video showcasing the technology, in which the rifle intentionally aimed slightly off target. You can see how the bullet manages to successfully change its flight path and connect with the intended target despite being aimed to the right. Check it out here:
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