When it comes to rifles, I’m a point and shoot kinda guy. Which is great when you’re all zeroed-in at something that’s within hailing distance and the target doesn’t move. “When you’re aiming at a target two miles away, the slightest perturbation could end up causing a catastrophic miss,” popsci.com points out, sensibly enough. “[That’s] not good enough for today’s military.” Whereas yesterday’s military was all about “close enough for rock and roll.” Anyway . . . “Until guns can aim themselves, snipers need the most accurate weapons possible. Engineers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) came up with a laser-guided correction system that ensures a shooter’s crosshairs are always on the mark.” How’s it work? Well, let’s just say snipers need dependable batteries now more than ever. In other words . . .
It works by measuring slight variations across a rifle barrel. High-caliber rifles usually have a series of grooves on the exterior, called flutes, which help reduce weight and dissipate heat, allowing the barrel to cool off more quickly after firing a round. ORNL researchers led by Slobodan Rajic added glass optical fibers to these grooves. Laser diodes send a beam of light into the optical fibers, which split it in two directions, along the top and side of the barrel.
Using these beams and other sensor inputs, algorithms calculate how accurately a gun’s sights — the reticle — correlates to the barrel’s actual position. The shooter has crosshairs that automatically adjust for environmental conditions in real time, ONRL says.
The system’s resolution is 250 times better than traditional reticles, shifting by 1/1,000th of a minute of angle.
To accompany the accurate crosshairs, Rajic and colleagues are also developing a laser-based bullet tracking system, which would provide a marksman with information about the bullet’s flight path. That sounds kind of like Darpa’s One Shot self-aiming system, which will calculate ballistics and ensure a perfect shot regardless of wind, humidity and other conditions.
How long before it’s point and shoot? Not long. I may not get there with you, but I have seen the promised land. Like when I gave my Remington 700 SPS to the Rabbi and told him to hit the target. Now if you’ll excuse me I need my bench rest.