Boeing Files Patent for a Star Wars Inspired Force Field

Monday, 23 March 2015 - 4:51PM
Technology
Monday, 23 March 2015 - 4:51PM
Boeing Files Patent for a Star Wars Inspired Force Field
Boeing could soon be saving lives using one of science fiction's most-famous protective devices, the Force Field. Made famous in movies like Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, force fields are hypothetical barriers of energy capable of deflecting incoming projectiles and forces. Earlier this month, a patent filed by Boeing reveals that the US aerospace company is looking to make sci-fi a reality by creating a layer of charged air, which could attenuate incoming shockwaves.

From the abstract of Boeing's patent:

"A method and system for attenuating a shockwave propagating through a first medium by heating a selected region of the first fluid medium rapidly to create a second, transient medium that intercepts the shockwave and attenuates its energy density before it reaches a protected asset. The second medium may attenuate the shockwave by one or more of reflection, refraction, dispersion, absorption and momentum transfer."

Just like one of those droidekas from Star Wars, Boeing's proposed force field would envelop an object - most likely a vehicle - to protect it from incoming, potentially harmful forces. While the proposed force field will be unable to protect its charge from a direct impact from something like a rocket or a bullet (or a lightsaber), it could dampen the force of shockwaves released by modern and improvised explosive devices.

"Explosive devices are being used increasingly in asymmetric warfare to cause damage and destruction to equipment and loss of life. The majority of the damage caused by explosive devices results from shrapnel and shock waves."


(Credit: Boeing/USPTO)



The actual force field being proposed by Boeing's patent comes in the form of a burst of lasers which can ionize the air around a vehicle, creating a barrier that could counter the forces created by a shockwave.

Though it's unlikely we'll see real-life force fields being deployed any time soon, it's still pretty neat to think that companies are seeing the potential in developing them.
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