Defence technologies are mutating at an unbelievably exhilarating speed, faster than any other industries. The health of military technology often influences the growth of other allied or even unrelated fields.
But scientists and engineers cannot be satisfied by mere drones that can fire or exoskeletons that can lift heavy weights. They are constantly striving to achieve the next levels of sophistication in military-inspired systems.
The success of any Defence research and development venture depends, apart from its original product, on its collaborations with other domestic or global companies.
Exchange of military-grade technology has its own advantage, as it increases our exposure to the knowledge necessary for gaining a competitive edge over the “enemy”. These technologies, after a certain period of usage, can also be converted to suit civilian applications.
We will walk you through our choice of five bleeding-edge Defence innovations that have already completed the prototyping stage.
- EXACTO – Course Correcting Bullet: As per its creator DARPA, EXACTO is revolutionizing rifle accuracy and range as it is the first ever guided, small-caliber bullet. The tech combines a maneuverable bullet and a real-time guidance system to track and deliver the projectile to the target, allowing the bullet to correct course during flight and return to its original trajectory.
- Boeing Plasma Shields for Protection from Explosives: Marching human civilization further into the future, Boeing recently filed for a patent with the United States Patent and Trademark Office for its reported ongoing development of the world’s first anti-explosive plasma shield or “force shield”.
This outlandish tech entails a layer of heated, ionized air that can guard against shock waves emanating from an explosion. The shield won’t prevent shrapnel or other debris from the explosion; rather it would deflect shock waves from the blast, which are not shielded by any armor systems currently.
Before you question, shock waves can be more dangerous as it does much of lethal killing than the shrapnel that can be removed (depending on the extent of its penetration).
- Invisibility Stickers: Scientists at the University of California, Irvine, have developed Invisibility Stickers. Unlike the movie-inspired invisibility cloak, this futuristic tech is inspired from squids.
These marine creatures have cells called Iridocytes that change skin colour. These cells are made up of platelets which in turn contain a special type of protein, known as Reflectin. Altering the platelets’ spacing and thickness changes the way the squid’s skin reflects incident light, allowing it to be invisible to larger predators as well as potential prey. The prototype is showing great potential and one day could aide soldiers in going completely invisible.
- Smart Sniper: Sniper units rely on their instincts and experience to take the perfect shot even from miles away. The mission can get compromised if they miss a high-profile target even by an inch due to several variables such as cross winds, vibrations on the floor, and shaking limbs.
To tackle this, TrackingPoint point has developed the Precision-Guided Firearm series that eliminates variables during a sniper shot. It uses a laser rangefinder, an on-board computer and a live-feed feature to measure a variety of external factors. These include gauging the ambient wind velocity and even the motional attribute of the target.
These parameters give the probability of the success of the shot, which are then sent to to the sniper. The futuristic weapon has an accuracy of 70% from a distance of 910 m. Snipers around the world have manually made successful shots from a greater distance. But the probability of such high-accuracy manual shots has remained one in a thousand.
- Is that a drone? A robotic beetle? No! It is a cyborg insect! Researchers from the University of California, Berkeley and Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore, have collaborated towards a unique spying solution – a remote-controlled sentient beetle. For this, the scientists devised a special backpack strapped around the beetle and connected to its optic lobes and flight muscles.
- The scientists were able to directly stimulate the muscles of the beetle through electrical signals, controlling the flight pattern of the organism. The beetle can be used for search and rescue, and also espionage.
Unorthodox and radical as these technologies might seem, we do not celebrate destructive weapons. We admire the human intellect. Scientists who work on these concepts have demonstrated their various potential civilian uses and applications in defending soldiers instead of use only as tactical offensive.