Metal Storm 'smart gun' in the news again


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Triad
March 26, 2004, 01:37 PM
Article (http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2004/03/26/1079939827815.html)

Lethal weapon

By Jordan Baker
March 26, 2004 - 11:35AM

James Bond would be impressed.

A hand gun that speaks several languages, broadcasts the conversation to the police, fires lethal and non-lethal bullets and is activated only by the grip of the registered owner.

The Guinness Book of Records has declared the gun, officially known as a Variable lethality enforcement (Vle) weapon, the world's most intelligent firearm.

It has also named the Vle's big brother, which is 36 times its size and has a potential firing rate of one million rounds a minute, as the world's fastest.

Both are based on revolutionary ballistics technology invented by Australian Mike O'Dwyer, a self-taught physicist from a dusty Queensland outback town near Longreach.

The breakthrough uses electronics rather than mechanics; instead of moving parts and heavy magazines, it involves a bullet-stacked cylinder fired by electric impulse.

A solo cylinder can be used as a pistol, while a few dozen can be used together to create a ballistic system capable of firing a hailstorm - or metal storm - of bullets in seconds.

The weapons are touted as lighter, cheaper and faster than conventional firearms and, because they are electrical, more easily linked to computers.

The technology is being developed and commercialised by Metal Storm Ltd, a Brisbane-based public company listed on the Australian Stock Exchange and the US Nasdaq.

Metal Storm general manager Australia Ian Gillespie said the company was moving defence into the digital age.

"The future is all about small lightweight, mobile, cheap, smart weapons systems, highly technical, and very few human beings involved," he said.

"Because it's electronic, it can interface with other electronic systems, intelligence systems that can tell it what to do and you don't need a person there."

Successful demonstrations prompted once-sceptical US officials to contribute to research through agencies such as the Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

They were impressed with the system's speed and need for less manpower.

A standard US mortar platoon has 27 people carrying 120 rounds of 81mm mortar, but this system needed only 13 people to carry 1,920 rounds, said Mr Gillespie.

A demonstration will be held in the US mid year to show how Metal Storm can be used with unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), which can collect intelligence but have no attacking power.

Mr Gillespie said Metal Storm's weapons are light enough to give the tiny aircraft fire power, controlled by a remote computer, to protect convoys or retaliate against enemy fire.

Against the backdrop of the ongoing bloodshed in Iraq, the company is hoping the demonstration will inspire defence top brass or congressmen to fast-track development.

While Metal Storm's target market is the United States military, which spends more on defence than the rest of the world combined, it is also developing law enforcement and personal weapons.

The "Variable lethality enforcement (Vle)" gun is expected to tap into a growing market for so-called safe guns, which encompasses more than 700,000 US law enforcement officers and 65 million hand gun users.

The State of New Jersey has decreed only safe guns may be sold within three years of the technology becoming available.

The law-enforcement gun can tell the police station when an officer has drawn his weapon, where he is and how many rounds are fired.

"(It) can tell both the user and the bad guy what it's doing - it can say I'm on stun or I'm on lethal, and it can speak in different languages," Mr Gillespie said.

"If (the officer is) in an incident, he can switch the audio on so that the people at the station or the squads on the way to back him up can hear what's going on."

Metal Storm is working with the New Jersey Institute of Technology to team its smart gun with technology that only recognises the registered user's grip.

"That will significantly reduce the incidence of unintended shooting," Mr Gillespie said.

Mr Gillespie defends Metal Storm against criticism it is developing and commercialising weapons that will make killing more effective.

"It's technology that can save a lot more lives, because this is the technology we want people in our armed forces and those of our allies to have to protect against threat that our out there now," he said.

"There are people being killed every day in Iraq and Afghanistan and other parts of the world.

"We're not about developing specifically offensive capability ... if our people are going to have to defend themselves, we want them to have the best."

Metal Storm's weapons are still in the development and testing stage and none are yet on the market.

Mr Gillespie said Metal Storm was undervalued on the market at present but admitted it would be two years before the company, which owns 50 patents and has more pending, starts generating revenue.

- AAP
-----------------------------------------

They may have finally found a good application for this with the UAVs.

I feel sorry for the folks in NJ though. It seems it won't be long until one of the existing companies or an upstart claims the NJ market for itself.

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Henry Bowman
March 26, 2004, 02:11 PM
Language alert!!

Notice how "smart gun" has morphed into "safe gun." :rolleyes:

Logan5
March 26, 2004, 02:28 PM
Yeah, well... I guess they figured out "smart gun" just sounds absurd, like "smart potato."

Also note "Mr Gillespie defends Metal Storm against criticism it is developing and commercialising weapons that will make killing more effective."

There's so much wrong with that sentance I don't know where to start. How is killing not currently effective enough? Did they take the zombie movie waaaay too seriously?
The police version sounds amazingly goofy. Imagine sitting in the back of traffic court when your gun suddenly starts trash talking in Spanish...

Sam Adams
March 26, 2004, 02:34 PM
Mr Gillespie said Metal Storm's weapons are light enough to give the tiny aircraft fire power, controlled by a remote computer, to protect convoys or retaliate against enemy fire.

...or to perform terrorist clean-up duties at the funerals of Pallie terrorists caught in the act.

Strings
March 26, 2004, 02:46 PM
> The police version sounds amazingly goofy. Imagine sitting in the back of traffic court when your gun suddenly starts trash talking in Spanish...<

And anyone who thinks there aren't hackers out there who would delight in arranging that very scenario is VERY innocent... >:)

And, if it's all computer controlled, how hard is it going to be for hackers to turn off all the cops guns? Could you imagine being on riot duty, and you gun starts cursing at you when you try to fire?

Third_Rail
March 26, 2004, 02:51 PM
:D :D :D :D


Computer skills, how I love them! I can definately see being able to, er, manipulate the VLE easily, after finding the band it operates on, seeing if it rotates, seeing the encryption, etc. It really would be feasable to turn them all off at the same time, given a good enough transmitter.

Ham radio skills, how I love them, too!

P95Carry
March 26, 2004, 02:54 PM
I think I'll just stick to plain ol' mechanical weapons .. no electronics .... no power supply to worry about and no damn computer!! Oh and plus of course ... MkI eyeball!:D

Rate of fire may be way slower but ... reliability is all but a given.:)

geekWithA.45
March 26, 2004, 05:47 PM
I can't wait till a cop has a BG covered and the gun blares out,

WARNING! Current User Not Recognized! The Gun Is Locked! Warning!....

or perhaps

Warning! Ammunition Depleted! Please Return Your Sidearm to the factory for a reload! in the middle of a shootout.

raz-0
March 26, 2004, 05:54 PM
Is it just me, or does the concept of conditioning people that guns can be non-lethal sound liek a really bad idea.

They keep bringing it up. It may have been great on star-trek, but anything that trains people that something lethal is safe is BAD, and only nasty accidents and abuse can come from it.

But I am glad to see that more people are finally realizing metalstorm is not cool , but rather trying to make a buck off of restricting our rights.

Waitone
March 26, 2004, 06:07 PM
A solution looking for a problem.

Apple a Day
March 26, 2004, 06:21 PM
Does it bother anyone else that an EMP would render all of this technology utterly useless?
Break out the tinfoil hats, 'cause here comes a doozy:
Use a small, vehicle-mounted microwave emitter to render everyones' weapons inert. Proceed to distribute whoopass wholesale with 'stupid' guns. :neener:
Maybe I've been reading too much Lights Out.

The_Antibubba
March 27, 2004, 04:35 AM
EMP? I can't wait to see what happens when they take it out of the air conditioned lab. It'll be like an M-16 in the jungle, or the desert, or in cold weather, or...

Tamara
March 27, 2004, 08:40 AM
"Because it's electronic, it can interface with other electronic systems, intelligence systems that can tell it what to do and you don't need a person there."

My god! Have these people never watched The Terminator?!? :eek:

benEzra
March 28, 2004, 04:52 PM
Is it just me, or does the concept of conditioning people that guns can be non-lethal sound liek a really bad idea.
Not just from a safety standpoint. Imagine the legal liability of having a gun that is DESIGNED to be pointed at a suspect in situations where lethal force is NOT warranted--and either through operator error, or hardware/software malfunction, or a combination thereof, a person is shot who shouldn't have been, or an officer or citizen is killed because the gun fired a beanbag instead of the intended bullet?

Vern Humphrey
March 28, 2004, 05:00 PM
Quote:
-----------------------------------------
A standard US mortar platoon has 27 people carrying 120 rounds of 81mm mortar, but this system needed only 13 people to carry 1,920 rounds, said Mr Gillespie
-----------------------------------------

Obviously, Mr Gillespie doesn't know what a mortar is.

A mortar is an indirect fire weapon that delivers an explosive warhead. Virtually all the weight of the projectile is in the warhead.

Does Mr Gillespie envision his system using some kind of micro-explosives and micro-shrapnel?:D

Triad
March 28, 2004, 05:09 PM
I wondered about that myself. I'm not familiar with the specific details of mortars, but how would half as many people carry more than ten times as much ammunition?

Third_Rail
March 28, 2004, 05:11 PM
Less metal is there, it's mostly higher grade (read: more expensive) secondary high explosives, polymers, etc. The system itself uses smaller charges to propell them, since they're lighter, so on so forth, making the system lighter.

I guess they didn't like how "Plastic Storm" sounded! :D :rolleyes:

Vern Humphrey
March 28, 2004, 05:51 PM
Quote:
------------------------------------
Less metal is there, it's mostly higher grade (read: more expensive) secondary high explosives, polymers, etc. The system itself uses smaller charges to propell them, since they're lighter, so on so forth, making the system lighter.
---------------------------------------

Here's the problem -- a mortar is an INDIRECT FIRE weapon. It's shot up, to fall on targets not seen from the gun position. It relies on fragmentation for terminal effect.

Now, a LIGHTER, high velocity projectile may do well in DIRECT FIRE, but not in indirect fire, where you NEED a rainbow trajectory (to shoot over hills and buildings and hit someone on the other side) and you also need range. That militates for a lower velocity, heavier projectile.

And when it hits, it has to do some damage. How will a polymer shell produce the needed fragmentation effect?

Preacherman
March 28, 2004, 06:10 PM
And when it hits, it has to do some damage. How will a polymer shell produce the needed fragmentation effect?
Ever seen a Kb!'ed Glock? :D

I know, I know, cheap shot - and I carry Glocks myself! - but I just couldn't resist... :D

Third_Rail
March 28, 2004, 06:10 PM
Well, kind of. The Metal Storm mortar is technically an indirect fire weapon, but in reality, many cameras are deployed as well as the firing device itself. Each shot is guided, aimed, or otherwise brought right to the target, no guesswork required.

So it COULD work, just... nothing like current mortars.

Vern Humphrey
March 28, 2004, 06:51 PM
The problem is, how do you get it to shoot OVER a hill or ridge, and hit someone sheltering in a ditch or gully on the other side?

Third_Rail
March 28, 2004, 06:55 PM
Camera first. There are projectiles that can be lobbed along the same path that a HE projectile would go, but that have a camera as a payload, hooked to a parachute. The camera/chute assembly also has a targeting IR laser, and when a target is acquired, the firing system fires HE projectile(s) to kill/disable/maim the target as required, aimed by the camera/IR system still floating down. This is of course only needed if the team didn't have the time to set up the remote IR lasers on the ground (3-10 of them) with the cameras.

Basically, once set up, this entire thing can be used by one man.

Vern Humphrey
March 28, 2004, 07:13 PM
Quote:
-------------------------------------------
Camera first. There are projectiles that can be lobbed along the same path that a HE projectile would go, but that have a camera as a payload, hooked to a parachute.
---------------------------------------------

I'm well aware of such developments -- but what will you shoot that camera out of that will give you all the range of the current 81mm mortar? It certainly won't be the same metalstorm launcher.

Nor is the camera the great solution to all problems it's cracked up to be.

Quote:
--------------------------------------------
the firing system fires HE projectile(s) to kill/disable/maim the target as required
---------------------------------------------

How? These projectiles must have a high trajectory, which can only be achieved by something approaching an 81mm mortar shell in mass and velocity -- which the Metalstorm launcher doesn't have.

Roadkill Coyote
March 28, 2004, 07:25 PM
[list=1]
The experiance of numerous agencies with 12 gauge beanbags has proved that we are not, as a whole, willing to accept the inevitable mistaken shootings that result from combining lethal and non-lethal capabilities in the same platform. Nothing in the Metal Storm system changes that.

While the idea that you can make an effective, pistol caliber, impact based less lethal round sounds great in theory, its a pipe dream. In order to fufill the most basic mandate of a less lethal impact round (no likelyhood of penetration), the pistol caliber round has to be much less dense/lighter, or travelling at a lower velocity. It appears to me, that a impact based, pistol caliber, less lethal round that is even as effective as the current, limited, specialized 12 gauge beanbags, is physically impossible. Physics enthusiasts feel free to jump in if I have missed something basic here. if you want to see how effective a safe, impact based, pistol caliber, less lethal system would be, go play paintball with a guy who has a hot setting on his marker, or shoot some simunitions.
[/list=1]

Third_Rail
March 28, 2004, 07:34 PM
Vern, I'm not trying to advocate a switch to Metal Storm systems, I'm just telling you how they've been designed, and how they're supposed to work.

Personally, I think there is a good reason "dumb" weapons have stuck around so long.

Vern Humphrey
March 28, 2004, 09:12 PM
Third Rail:
I understand. As an old mortarman, I point out that to compare the metalstorm system to a mortar is like comparing a submarine to a fighter plane -- they simply can't do the same job.

Third_Rail
March 28, 2004, 09:31 PM
Exactly.

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