Well, this is terrifying. As if the U.S. Department of Defense’s research into robotic pack animals wasn’t scary enough, it’s been revealed that a series of tests in February have made unnerving progress with ‘self-steering’ bullets.
The team behind the project, known as EXACTO and developed by America's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), has released a video showing the smart bullets in action, successfully changing their course in order to hit a moving target. It’s thought that they work by using small fins on the sides of the bullet to guide it to the target, which is tracked by lasers, although DARPA are being understandably quiet about its exact inner workings.
The military often has to face unfavorable conditions—such as harsh weather, wind, and moving targets—that reduce the accuracy of soldiers, and it would normally be the preserve of specially trained snipers to hit difficult targets. However, the video shows how the weapon can be used, not just by trained sharpshooters, but by absolute novices—with no drop in accuracy. The smart bullets don’t just increase a squaddies accuracy either, it can also increase their range.
“EXACTO has demonstrated what was once thought impossible: the continuous guidance of a small-calibre bullet to target,” explained Jerome Dunn, DARPA program manager. “This live-fire demonstration from a standard rifle showed that EXACTO is able to hit moving and evading targets with extreme accuracy at sniper ranges unachievable with traditional rounds.”
The fact that they have fit such advanced and impressive tech into a relatively small .50-caliber round is a “major breakthrough” and opens the door for the ability to expand the system into other larger caliber shells at some point in the future.