Great, But What I Really Want Is An Early Warning Device Against Stupid Drivers

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Force protection is a big deal and getting bigger all the time, as evidenced by this new counter-sniper system:

WASHINGTON -- A sniper fires on American troops in Iraq. In the milliseconds before the bullet hits -- in fact, before the shot is even heard -- a computer screen reveals the gun's model and exact location. That's the kind of intelligence that can save soldiers' lives. The Army is currently testing the technology in combat.

. . .

Walt Smith, a technology director at Radiance who traveled with the system to Iraq during its March 2004 launch, said soldiers like it because of its precision.

"A person who has a rugged tablet personal computer can see an image," Smith said. "Someone on the second floor, third window from the right, shot from that location."

The system was tested on top of a building where there was a high concentration of insurgent gunfire. Within a few days, American troops were able to use WeaponWatch to return fire more rapidly, Smith said, resulting in a noticeable drop in enemy attacks.
It was at this point in reading the article that I wondered how long it would be before somebody figured out that they could connect this to a weapon and make an automatic gun like in Goldeneye or Half-Life. Of course, they're already ahead of me:
Kimzey said that because the technology has become so mobile and keeps getting smaller, there's virtually no end to the possibilities. For example, the Marines recently tested a program that links the infrared detector to an automatic weapon. It would allow the combatant wielding that weapon to get a shot off almost immediately after the enemy fired.
Of course, now the lawyers would get involved:
Kimzey said such an invention could be problematic because military rules of engagement require that a human being, and not a machine make firing decisions in the field of combat.
Party poopers.

[full disclosure: we're working on something similar linked to the LCMR for anti-mortar force protection]

1 Comment

I wonder how the detection system works. Since it can analyze the incoming fire before it's even heard, I assume it's detecting muzzle flashes or something. But then could anything else be close enough to a muzzle flash that it picks up false readings? That's where you really might have problems with a machine returning fire. Well, that and fratricide issues...
As for the military rules of engagement, I thought when a Patriot launcher shot down a coalition jet during the Gulf War II invasion, they said the launcher detected and fired automatically. No humans pushed the button.

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This page contains a single entry by Chris published on November 1, 2005 7:53 AM.

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