And you thought projectile bolts were only to be found in the 41st centuary?
Well, Sandia National Laboratories, a multiprogram laboratory operated and managed by Sandia Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary of Lockheed Martin Corporation, for the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration, has beaten the Emperor to it. Or maybe this is the first step to Space Marine technology.
Though bolts are more explosive and less self guided, Sandia has developed a self-guided bullet prototype that can hit target a mile away. Maybe this is more a step towards closer to Judge Dredd and his own guided bullets?? Appropriate with the new film coming out soon. Though it does look more like a bolt for a Bolt Pistol. :)
Sandia researchers Red Jones and Brian Kast and their colleagues have invented a dart-like, self-guided bullet for small-caliber, smooth-bore firearms that could hit laser-designated targets at distances of more than a mile (about 2,000 meters). A tiny light-emitting diode, or LED, attached to a self-guided bullet at Sandia National Laboratories shows a bright path during a night time field test that proved the battery and electronics could survive the bullet's launch. Sandia is now seeking a private company partner to complete testing of the prototype and bring a guided bullet to the marketplace.
Researchers have had initial success testing the design in computer simulations and in field tests of prototypes, built from commercially available parts.
Sandia’s design for the four-inch-long bullet includes an optical sensor in the nose to detect a laser beam on a target. The sensor sends information to guidance and control electronics that use an algorithm in an eight-bit central processing unit to command electromagnetic actuators. These actuators steer tiny fins that guide the bullet to the target. Most bullets shot from rifles, which have grooves, or rifling, that cause them to spin so they fly straight, like a long football pass.
To enable a bullet to turn in flight toward a target and to simplify the design, the spin had to go, Jones said. The bullet flies straight due to its aerodynamically stable design, which consists of a center of gravity that sits forward in the projectile and tiny fins that enable it to fly without spin, just as a dart does, he said. The four-inch-long bullet has actuators that steer tiny fins that guide it to its target.
Computer aerodynamic modeling shows the design would result in dramatic improvements in accuracy, Jones said. Computer simulations showed an unguided bullet under real-world conditions could miss a target more than a half mile away (1,000 meters away) by 9.8 yards (9 meters), but a guided bullet would get within 8 inches (0.2 meters), according to the patent. Plastic sabots provide a gas seal in the cartridge and protect the delicate fins until they drop off after the bullet emerges from the firearm’s barrel. The prototype does not require a device found in guided missiles called an inertial measuring unit, which would have added substantially to its cost. Instead, the researchers found that the bullet’s relatively small size when compared to guided missiles “is helping us all around. It’s kind of a fortuitous thing that none of us saw when we started,” Jones said.
As the bullet flies through the air, it pitches and yaws at a set rate based on its mass and size. In larger guided missiles, the rate of flight-path corrections is relatively slow, so each correction needs to be very precise because fewer corrections are possible during flight. But “the natural body frequency of this bullet is about 30 hertz, so we can make corrections 30 times per second. That means we can overcorrect, so we don’t have to be as precise each time,” Jones said. Testing has shown the electromagnetic actuator performs well and the bullet can reach speeds of 2,400 feet per second, or Mach 2.1, using commercially available gunpowder. The researchers are confident it could reach standard military speeds using customized gunpowder. And a nighttime field test, in which a tiny light-emitting diode, or LED, was attached to the bullet showed the battery and electronics can survive flight, Jones said.