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New Mexico Lab Patents Self-Guided Bullet

Sandia Labs bulletAdmit it: You're probably not the best shot in the world. The middle of that target just always seems to evade you, doesn't it? Well, thanks to an exciting new breakthrough in bullet technology just might change that.

According to KRQE-TV, scientists at Sandia Labs in Albuquerque have invented a self-guided bullet that doesn't miss its target.

The .50-caliber bullet, which behaves more like a miniature guided missile, doesn't have a spiral rotation, but instead twists and turns to guide itself toward a laser-directed point and is capable of making up to 30 corrections in the air -- it could be a perfect fit for military machine guns, scientists said.

"We've tested gunpowders to see if we can get muzzle velocity for military interest," said Jim Jones, a member of the Sandia Labs technical staff. "We've tested various electronic components to see if they would survive the launch."

According to a press release from Sandia, the bullet uses an optical sensor in the nose to detect a laser-pointed target, which sends information to guidance and control electronics in an eight-bit central processing unit. Electromagnetic actuators are then commanded by the CPU to control fins to steer the bullet.

Computer simulations showed a dramatically improved accuracy; while a typical bullet could miss by 9.8 yards at a half-mile away, the self-guided bullet could hit the target within eight inches.

The self-guided bullet is capable of speeds up to 2,400 feet per second and pitches less as the bullet moves downrange, meaning the accuracy actually improves at longer ranges.

So far, the project has been funded by research and development grants, but the team needs a sponsor before it can move the prototype into commercial sales.

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