Clockwise from top left, images courtesy of the Department of Defense’s website (PDF), DARPA's website, Camero via YouTube, Sandia National Laboratories via Flickr, and Richard Anders via YouTube.

5 Scary Future Weapons That Are Actually Being Developed

Sci-fi authors are going to have to come up with some new ideas as  military researchers develop scary future weapons.

The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) alone spends nearly $70 billion a year building some pretty incredibly futuristic, and honestly pretty scary technologies. Here are five scary future weapons coming soon to a battlefield (hopefully nowhere) near you.

1. Maneuverable bullets 

guidedbullet

Photo showing a guided bullet’s flight path courtesy of Sandia National Laboratories (which run a separate self-guided bullet program) via Flickr.

With regular rifles, soldiers essentially “fire-and-forget.” They shoot, and the bullet follows its trajectory, either hitting the target or not.

The Extreme Accuracy Tasked Ordnance (EXACTO) system aims to change that. Currently under development by the Defense Advance Project Research Agency (DARPA), the weapon will feature maneuverable bullets that can change their flight path via the EXACTO’s guidance system.

2. See through walls 

seethroughwalls

Images courtesy of Camero via YouTube. Animated by Curiousmatic.[contextly_auto_sidebar]

While it’s not exactly a weapon, this tech is already in use by police and military forces around the world. Through the use ultra-wideband radio waves that “see” through walls, hand-held devices such as the Camero Xaver can detect the layout of a room from the outside and track any moving people or objects within.

Click through to the company website for a staged demonstration video (inexplicably featuring skimpily dressed girls packaging drugs), or see a test of the system in a Brazilian news report here.

Bonus: helicopter-mounted 3D cameras that can see through foliage and camouflage netting, via Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

3. Crowd control through sensory overload 

lightandsoundweapon

Photo from demonstration courtesy of the Department of Defense’s website (PDF).

Saddled with the non-descriptive moniker of “Distributed Sound and Light Array,” this system is designed to “severely degrade an individual’s ability to perform threatening tasks” by beaming out bright white light and a green laser disruptor, while simultaneously sending verbal instructions through an acoustic hailing device (AHD).

Basically, it blinds people lights and lasers while beaming out very loud sound. It can be targeted at both individuals and in spread that would hit large crowds.

AHDs send highly directional audio over distances as far 5 miles, using a low-frequency acoustic energy that allows it to penetrate vehicles, buildings, and override background noise. They are already in use in areas such as the pirate-plagued Gulf of Aden (or against G20 protesters in Pittsburgh).

Bonus: The Active Denial System, a Humvee-mounted dish that emits high-frequency microwaves that make you feel like your skin is on fire (don’t worry, chances of injury from the system are only 0.1%, the DoD says).

4. Automated killer robots 

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Photo courtesy of an unverified purportedly video showing the system, via YouTube.

On the border of North and South Korea there are Samsung-made machine gun turrets that can detect and track approaching enemies using an infrared camera.

Although the firing mechanism is currently operated by humans, there is an “automatic mode,” according to a United Nations report calling for a moratorium on lethal autonomous robotics.

Bonus: DARPA’s cute robot, Spot.

 

scary future weaponsAnd then there’s the Cheetah, a small four-legged robot that’s faster than Usain Bolt.

5. Laser planes 

laserplanes

Photo courtesy of the DARPA website.

DARPA is planning to mount lasers on planes and use the “the speed and power of light” to shoot enemies on the ground.

Called the High Energy Liquid Laser Area Defense System (HELLADS), the project is another iteration of the armed force’s dreams to use lasers in combat, dating at least back to the ‘80s and Reagan’s Star Wars.

The illustration photo above, from the DARPA website, speaks for itself.

Updated

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Ole Skaar