Feeds

US forces developing 'miniature weapons' for killer robots

Phantom Works pocket missile ideal for 'suburban combat'

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

US Air Force boffinry chiefs have decided to spend as much as $7m developing "miniature weapons" for use by killer robots in the Wars On Stuff.

Weaponry'n'aerospace globocorp Boeing was chuffed yesterday to announce that it had bagged an initial $0.5m deal to look into ideas, which will lead on into another $6.5m of work if the scheme moves forward.

At the moment, unmanned aircraft in combat overseas mostly use standard air weapons. Generally the lightest, most delicate option open to a prowling airborne killbot will be the Hellfire missile, a hefty hundred-pound laser guided rocket which was originally developed for the purpose of taking out heavily-armoured main battle tanks.

Against a more typical modern-war target such as a pickup truck, a small house or a 4x4, the Hellfire is a blunt instrument rather than a surgical one. Fired at a single person or single room, as it often is, Hellfire is major overkill and causes a lot of collateral damage and dead bystanders - perhaps so much so as to outweigh the value of hitting the target.

Hence the "miniature weapons" deal from the US Air Force Research Lab announced yesterday, under which Boeing's "Phantom Works" advanced-tech shop will produce something a bit more suitable to counter-insurgency work.

The new mini-missiles seem set to be at least as sophisticated as a Hellfire, perhaps more so. In addition to seeker and guidance tech, they will feature "radar options". This could be merely a matter of fusing, making the weapon go off at a certain distance from the target, but it might also mean the missile would be able to home in on its victims independently, without a guiding laser dot.

"The concept behind this technology is designed to generate very low collateral damage," says Boeing exec Carl Avila. "[It] allows warfighters to engage a variety of targets, including those in a suburban terrain environment." ®

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

More from The Register

next story
Voyager 1 now EIGHTEEN LIGHT HOURS from home
Almost 20 BEEELION kilometres from Sol
MEN: For pity's sake SLEEP with LOTS of WOMEN - and avoid Prostate Cancer
And, um, don't sleep with other men. If that's what worries you
Ex-Soviet engines fingered after Antares ROCKET launch BLAST
Speculation rife, but Orbital claims it's too early to tell
Jim Beam me up, Scotty! WHISKY from SPAAACE returns to Earth
They're insured for $1m, before you thirsty folks make plans
ROGUE SAIL BOAT blocks SPACE STATION PODULE blastoff
Er, we think our ISS launch beats your fishing expedition
NASA: Spacecraft crash site FOUND ON MOON RIM
'What fun!' exlaims NASA boffin who found the LADEE
Comet Siding Spring revealed as flying molehill
Hiding from this space pimple isn't going to do humanity's reputation any good
BAE points electromagnetic projectile at US Army
Railguns for 'Future fighting vehicle'
prev story

Whitepapers

Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
New hybrid storage solutions
Tackling data challenges through emerging hybrid storage solutions that enable optimum database performance whilst managing costs and increasingly large data stores.
Mitigating web security risk with SSL certificates
Web-based systems are essential tools for running business processes and delivering services to customers.