Sandia’s Self-guided Bullet is on Target

The changes to military tech that often get the most coverage are the big toys like tougher tanks, faster planes or missiles with longer range. While those things are neat, the smaller a technical breakthrough is, the more likely it will see mass adoption and the more it can make its presence known. Sandia National Laboratories has managed to improve on what might be the smallest piece of kit common to all soldiers. The bullet.

Sandia has successfully test-fired a 50 mm bullet that uses laser guidance to hit its target. Plastic sabots protect tiny fins until after the bullet is fired. Once it’s in flight, the bullet acts like a guided missile, seeking out and homing on to targets painted with a laser. Watched in slow motion, the bullet actually pitches and yaws as it travels.

Sandia Bullet in flight.

The flight path of Sandia's self-guided bullet. Courtesy of Sandia National Laboratories.

Most of you reading this probably realize that current bullet technology relies mainly on rifling for firing accuracy. A bullet spins as it leaves the barrel, similar to how a tight spiral makes a quarterback more accurate. Sandia’s bullet has dispensed with the spin, instead relying on a center of gravity that lies toward the front of the bullet along with its fins.

The net result of all this engineering is, as you might expect, a bullet with increased accuracy, particularly at long range. Computer simulations conducted by Sandia found that a standard bullet deviated almost 9 meters when fired at a target 1,000 meters away. The Sandia bullet only deviated 0.2 meters at the same range.

Sandia is currently seeking a private company to fund further research and continue prototype development to bring the self-guided bullet to interested customers.

Below you’ll find a video about the bullet.

Source: Sandia National Laboratories

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