Sandia National Labs have been testing a prototype laser guided bullet that will increase the accuracy of each shot. The bullet will be able to steer itself and home in on targets.
There is an optical sensor for each bullet enabling it to lock onto a target from a laser target designator. The sensor is located in the nose of the bullet, which is 4 inches long and has fins. The fins are used to steer the bullet, using inbuilt electronics and actuators guiding the flight, correcting the trajectory 30 times each second.
"The sensor sends information to guidance and control electronics that use an algorithm to command electromagnetic actuators. These actuators steer tiny fins that guide the bullet to the target," Sandia National Laboratories website says.
It's a similar principle to that used in guided missiles, but the small mass and relatively short path of a bullet require a different approach. The team behind the project had to remove the grooves or rifling that allows bullets to spin so they fly straight,allowing the bullet to be directed in flight.
Laser Guided Bullet
Current simulations and prototype testing show the laser guided bullet accuracy is far greater than conventional bullets. The laser guided bullets can hit a target at half a mile (1000 meters) away within 8 inches (0.2 meters). Normal bullets are expected to miss by nearly 10 yards (9 meters).
The components used are all commercially available, however the laser guided bullets will be expensive due to the technology and manufacturing process for each bullet. However, less bullets will need to be fired due to increased accuracy.
There are still engineering challenges and Sandia is seeking a private company partner to complete testing of the prototype and bring a guided bullet to the marketplace.
Picture and Video: Courtesy of Sandia National Laboratories