Drone-Killing, Laser-Shooting Dune Buggy Looks Like Something From 'Mad Max'

Wednesday, 11 October 2017 - 1:20PM
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Wednesday, 11 October 2017 - 1:20PM
Drone-Killing, Laser-Shooting Dune Buggy Looks Like Something From 'Mad Max'
Image Credit: Raytheon
Drone warfare is going to be an increasingly difficult challenge for militaries of the near future.

Just as the advent of warplane technology a century ago meant that armies could be more brazen about attacking from a distance, it's nowpossible to launch an aerial assault without risking any valuable human troops, meaning that toy helicopters are becoming an increasingly big danger for troops stationed around the world.

Enter Raytheon's laser dune buggy, a device that even the official press release describes as "a vehicle that looks like it's straight out of Mad Max".




The logic here is simple: Raytheon has taken an enormous weaponized laser, and strapped it to the back of a dune buggy, for the sole purpose of frying drones that might pose a threat to military troops.

via GIPHY


The inspiration came from the story of a military group that, earlier this year, used a Patriot missile to shoot a drone out of the sky. Apparently, someone had strapped a grenade to a hobby store quadcopter and sent it merrily off towards the troops, who, in a moment of quick-witted resourcefulness, blew the thing up before it could get too close.

Raytheon's thinking here is that a big angry laser will be more effective at such work than a missile. Throwing away a Patriot missile every time a troop is threatened would never be cost-effective, but a reusable laser that doesn't need to exert an awful lot of force to knock out a drone? That's not a bad idea.


According to Dr Ben Allison, director of Raytheon's high energy laser product line:

Opening quote
"The question became, 'What can we do for a counter-UAS system using a high-energy laser, and do it quickly. We didn't want to go out and do a bunch of research and development. We wanted to take the assets and capabilities Raytheon has today and use them to really affect this asymmetrical threat. We settled on a small system that's hugely capable."
Closing quote


Electricity-powered laser weapons are becoming more common, with plenty of research going into how to make the kind of death rays that we all grew up fantasizing about. Raytheon's answer to this technology is capable of shooting 20-30 laser blasts within a 30 foot radius, and does so on a single charge from a standard 220v outlet. It's a nice, convenient system that doesn't take too much to keep operational, and won't require costly ammunition to keep it going.

Perhaps the most fun part of this whole endeavor is that everyone at Raytheon is keenly aware of just how cool this new laser dune buggy is. Or, to put it in the words of Dr Allison himself:

Opening quote
"It's not sharks with laser beams on them, but it's pretty close."
Closing quote

via GIPHY



Words to live by. No doubt someone at Raytheon is already hard at work training the sharks, just waiting for an opportunity to tie all of this research together.
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