Researchers dream up guided .50 cal bullet

A team of Sandia labs researchers has come up with a novel design for a guided bullet.

Engineer Larry Shipers showed a rough sketch of the proposal to Popular Science, detailing how the new bullet should overcome some basic issues faced by weapons designers.

First of all, the bullet is actually not a bullet in the traditional sense. It is not spin-stabilised and it is much larger than an ordinary full-metal jacket bullet, as it has accommodate guidance electronics based on an 8-bit chip, an optical sensor and aerodynamic control surfaces.

The resulting design is more than twice the length of a regular .50 caliber bullet and as it is not supposed to spin, it would have to be fired out of a smoothbore barrel, which would have to be retrofitted to existing .50 cal weapons. The guidance system relies on a small laser sensor at the tip of the bullet and a cone-shaped control surface at the back. As it is not spin-stabilised, the bullet is designed to be nose-heavy, like a dart.

It is capable of adjusting the projectile’s direction 30 times a second, which seems to indicate that the round has a much lower muzzle velocity than ordinary rounds. Designers claim the bullet could improve accuracy by about 90 percent at a range of half a mile. The rather limited range also seems to indicate a low velocity round, as a British soldier managed to kill two Taliban fighters at a range of 8120 feet in 2010 using a traditional .50 cal round.

Shipers claims the team is ready to produce the first prototypes once it secures the necessary funding, so don’t be surprised if you see his contraption on Kickstarter.