Taurus drops its "smart gun" project


March 14, 2004, 12:11 PM
From Gun Week (http://www.gunweek.com/0310issue/taurus0310.html):

Taurus Withdraws From ‘Smart Gun’ Partnership in NJ

by Joseph P. Tartaro
Executive Editor

Taurus International Manufacturing Inc. announced on Feb. 13 that it was withdrawing from the short-lived partnership with the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) and the Australian firm Metal Storm LTD to develop and produce a handgun with user recognition technology.

“Due to overwhelming interest in the 13 new products we introduced this year, Taurus personnel will not have the time to adequately pursue development of such technology in the immediate future,” Bob Morrison, executive vice president of Taurus, told Gun Week.

When Taurus’ participation in the research and development partnership was first announced at the beginning of December, Morrison made it clear that while Taurus was interested in the joint development project, the company would be concentrating on advancing traditional firearms technologies and existing product lines.

In announcing the withdrawal during the Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade (SHOT) Show in Las Vegas in February, Morrison said that Taurus wished NJIT and Metal Storm well in their continued joint efforts for a workable user recognition technology. He also indicated that Taurus might review its position at some future date.

At the SHOT Show, Taurus introduced several new revolvers and pistols as well as a Model 63 semi-automatic .22-caliber gallery-type rifle and knives.

Taurus and NJIT officials had announced the formation of an expanded new partnership to develop a so-called smart gun, in which the Brazilian-owned gun manufacturer would try to design a pistol that would incorporate technologies developed by the other partners.

Four months earlier, Associated Press reported from Brisbane, Australia, that Metal Storm had partnered with NJIT, basing its plan on an electronic firing system used in Metal Storm’s O’Dwyer VLe pistol. While the Newark, NJ-based public research university is developing the grip-recognition technology, Metal Storm has been working on an electronic firing system for the smart gun.

In the Metal Storm pistol, caseless bullets are arranged in line in a tube rather than a magazine and the propellant between the bullets is ignited electronically. Metal Storm says the caliber of the projectiles can be changed simply by inserting a tube loaded with different size bullets.

A little over a year ago, responding to a push by the anti-gun CeaseFire New Jersey, the state legislature enacted a law making the Garden State the first state to require that new handguns for sale must utilize such technology beginning three years after the state attorney general determines that a smart-gun prototype is safe and commercially available.

While the law was being debated in the state legislature, NJIT had testified that no reliable system for user recognition technology existed. The legislature, determined to mandate a “smart gun” bill even though the experts reported that no reliable technology existed, included in the measure a $1 million funding grant to NJIT to develop a workable system in which a handgun could only be fired by the pre-programmed owner or users.

In early January, Sens. Frank Lautenberg and Jon Corzine, both New Jersey Democrats, announced at NJIT that their offices had advanced a $1.146 million federal appropriation to accelerate the development of the personalized handgun.

Opponents of the state’s “smart gun” legislation, including gun rights organizations, said such technology was still years from the market and would be legally challenged anyway.

“This whole legislation is just waiting for hundreds of lawsuits if it does happen,” said Nancy Ross, spokeswoman for the Association of New Jersey Rifle and Pistol Clubs, as the measure was debated in Trenton.

After the legislation passed, institute researchers moved ahead with a patented design that would embed, in both sides of a gun grip, small electronic sensors that would identify the user’s grip. Only those whose grips had been programmed into the gun could fire it instantly.

Taurus originally had believed that it could provide a gun that uses both technologies with a minimum of moving parts, NJIT officials said in December.

Gunowners fear the law will force them to buy just one model of gun that is cheap, heavy and hard to use, Ross said.

In addition, police in New Jersey and elsewhere have been wary of the “smart gun” concept. Most law enforcement experts have said that in order for them to adopt such a concept for duty sidearms, the guns would have to be able to be fired by more than one officer and would have to fail in the operative state if any of the components became inoperative.

Of course, there is the continuing question of whether or not the recognition technology and the electronic firing system will reliably fire 100% of the time a trigger is pulled. So far, no one has confirmed to Gun Week that all tests of the system have worked so flawlessly.

One thing is clear from all sources, a marketable version of a handgun that recognizes its authorized user is at least two years away and probably quite a bit longer.

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March 14, 2004, 12:38 PM
I may just to go out and get another taurus

Black Snowman
March 14, 2004, 01:40 PM
I have a fealing that a few opinionated letters to the company had something to do with it as well. Maybe I will pick up that Raging Bull . . .

March 14, 2004, 01:44 PM
I guess that means I can buy Taurus again. Cool.

March 14, 2004, 01:50 PM
While I like the fact that Taurus pulled out, I wish it was because they realized it was a bogus program and not because of this:
“Due to overwhelming interest in the 13 new products we introduced this year, Taurus personnel will not have the time to adequately pursue development of such technology in the immediate future,”

March 14, 2004, 01:55 PM
I may just to go out and get another taurus
Beat you to it;)

I just put a Taurus PT940 in layaway so to speak at the local pawnshop.

Darn near new for only $250


Standing Wolf
March 14, 2004, 05:32 PM
I'm the smarts behind all my guns.

Black Snowman
March 14, 2004, 05:58 PM
Well said StandingWolf.

Dannyboy, don't believe everything that you read. It's just a convinient excuse for them to back out of something they were smartly told by their clientelle that they didn't like. Truth is the development would bring funding dollars from the program and they could hire additional help. Or they could drop the whole thing before it blew up in their face.

March 14, 2004, 06:01 PM
SW is right, after the "dry fire" incident with the students of guncite (?) in AZ, it shows the most important brain is the connected to the hand holding the gun

4v50 Gary
March 14, 2004, 06:16 PM
Regardless of why, good for Taurus.

Now, let's divert those other firms into making a smart folding knife. Wrong user and the blade won't unfold :D

March 15, 2004, 01:13 AM
This is actually better than it sounds. The NJ grant was a one time chunk of funds without more legislation. I don't know if the federal grant came through, or if it was or was not structured as ongoing funds. Metalstorm hasn't shipped product ever, and is basically chasing the above grant money rather than contributing.

Taurus was kicking in money on a regular basis.

From what I have heard of the NJIT project, it's not entirely clear anyone involved with it expects there to be a workable firearm coming out of the project. Those directing it wanted something grip based, as that was their pet technology. IT was their pet for various reasons long before the smart gun idea. They have developed the grip technology significantly, but it is still not up to the task of a reliable system on a firearm.

Basically, I think the main problem is that they put most of their chickens in one basket. The people who did so had yet to find out where hte line between hard and impossible was for grip discrimination given current technology, were just plain ignorant of how elusive a really consistant grip is in handgun shooting.

I think the real deal here may just be that taurus found out how big a money pit research is in the world of academia when you are research a solution rather than engineering one.

We haven't crammed one technology into a gun with much success. My guess is the idea won't be viable until we can cram a slew of identifying technologies into one without impeding it's function, as pretty much every technology to date has a simple straightforward problem that absolutely cripples it.

March 15, 2004, 03:34 AM
Now what about Colt. :scrutiny:

Highland Ranger
March 15, 2004, 08:19 AM
Great news. Guess we can put them back on the list.

There were a number of threads here regarding a Taurus boycott . . . . I'm sure that helped Taurus recognize the error of their ways.

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