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A New 'Smart Rifle' Decides When To Shoot And Rarely Misses

cupper

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Interesting, but how practical would this be for anything other than hunting and target shooting? Doesn't appear to combat environment friendly.

Anyone with experience from the combat arms trades have any thoughts?

A New 'Smart Rifle' Decides When To Shoot And Rarely Misses

http://www.npr.org/blogs/alltechconsidered/2013/05/15/184223110/Mark-Dewey-tk

A new rifle goes on sale on Wednesday, and it's not like any other. It uses lasers and computers to make shooters very accurate. A startup gun company in Texas developed the rifle, which is so effective that some in the shooting community say it should not be sold to the public.

It's called the TrackingPoint rifle. On a firing range just outside Austin in the city of Liberty Hill, a novice shooter holds one and takes aim at a target 500 yards away. Normally it takes years of practice to hit something at that distance. But this shooter nails it on the first try.

The rifle's scope features a sophisticated color graphics display. The shooter locks a laser on the target by pushing a small button by the trigger. It's like a video game. But here's where it's different: You pull the trigger but the gun decides when to shoot. It fires only when the weapon has been pointed in exactly the right place, taking into account dozens of variables, including wind, shake and distance to the target.

The rifle has a built-in laser range finder, a ballistics computer and a Wi-Fi transmitter to stream live video and audio to a nearby iPad. Every shot is recorded so it can be replayed, or posted to YouTube or Facebook.

"Think of it like a smart rifle. You have a smart car you; you got a smartphone; well, now we have a smart rifle," says company President Jason Schauble. He says the TrackingPoint system was built for hunters and target shooters, especially a younger generation that embraces social media.

"They like to post videos; they like to be in constant communication with groups or networks," Schauble says. "This kind of technology, in addition to making shooting more fun for them, also allows shooting to be something that they share with others."

A team of 70 people spent three years creating the technology. Schauble says there's nothing else like it, even in the military. For civilians, TrackingPoint sells its high-end, long-range guns directly. With price tags of up to $22,000, they're not cheap.

One hunter who doesn't want one is Chris Wilbratte. He says the TrackingPoint system undermines what he calls hunting's "fair chase."

"It's the traditional shooting fish in a barrel or the sitting duck. I mean, there's no skill in it, right? It's just you point, you let the weapons system do its thing and you pull the trigger and now you've killed a deer. There's no skill," Wilbratte says.

This new rifle is being released as the gun control debate continues to simmer in Washington.

Chris Frandsen, a West Point graduate who fought in Vietnam, doesn't believe the TrackingPoint technology should be allowed in the civilian world. The gun makes it too easy for a criminal or a terrorist to shoot people from a distance without being detected, he says.

"Where we have mental health issues, where we have children that are disassociated from society early on, when we have terrorists who have political cards to play, we have to restrict weapons that make them more efficient in terrorizing the population," Frandsen says.

Schauble says because the company sells directly — instead of going through gun dealers — it knows who its customers are and will vet them. And he says there's a key feature that prevents anyone other than the registered owner from utilizing the gun's capabilities.

"It has a password protection on the scope. When a user stores it, he can password protect the scope that takes the advanced functionality out. So the gun will still operate as a firearm itself, but you cannot do the tag/track/exact, the long range, the technology-driven precision guided firearm piece without entering that pass code," he says.

Schauble says demand has been "overwhelming." TrackingPoint now has a waiting list. Others are interested, too: Rifle maker Remington Arms wants to use the technology in rifles it wants to sell for around $5,000.

Promotional video from Tracking Point at link.
 

Smirnoff123

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I dont think that it would be very enjoyable taking that gun to the range... it would not help to improve your marksmanship.

I wonder how long it takes on average before it decides to fire, I think that would be a big factor in combat. Can it be fired in automatic?
 

Eaglelord17

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An other problem is whether it would be able to identify enemy combatants. Its one thing to hit a white target on a range its a other all together to hit a well camouflaged opponent.
 

Fabius

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From reading through the material at the company's website its clear that the system is designed for medium and long range engagements. Basically at least 500m or more.
It still needs the shooter to actually find and ID a target. Once the shooter has a target he uses the system to Tag the target. Tagging in this case seems to be a matter of the system painting the target with a laser and the system then memorizing what it looks like. It would be interesting to see if camo would affect it. Given that its being marketed as a hunting tool I doubt that camo will actually effect it greatly.

The system itself takes care of windage and elevation once a target is tagged so all that is left is firing a good shot which is were the guided trigger takes over.

The guided trigger only allows the trigger to actually be pulled when the cross hairs are exactly on the target that has been tagged.  The gun does not actually fire itself rather is manipulates the weight of the trigger pull increasing it when the reticle is off target and decreasing it when on target. There is no specific lenght of time to actual firing from what I understand.
If your a good marksmen and can hold nice and tight then the rifle will firer almost instantly whereas if your wobbling over over minute of barn then its going to be a while.

Its an interesting development and I think even if its not all its portrayed to be in the shiny brocure its definitely an indication of where technology is going.
Having taken a Ballistic fire control system similar to that in concept and function to that on a MBT or a fighter aircraft and being able to miniaturize it sufficiently to place it on small arms and have it man portable is and will be a significant advancement.
 

MeanJean

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Having video capture and streaming is an interesting concept.  Streaming video could be used to identify targets or for surveillance.  It makes me think of the video capabilities used in UAVs.  The video technology may be useful in analyzing combat situations, confirming kills, identifying the enemy and improving tactics.  But I would have to agree that the fire control would be garbage for close quarters.

Fabius said:
Having taken a Ballistic fire control system similar to that in concept and function to that on a MBT or a fighter aircraft and being able to miniaturize it sufficiently to place it on small arms and have it man portable is and will be a significant advancement.

I agree with Fabius, the challenge will be produce a miniature version that is also reliable. 
 

Illegio

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I take issue with some of the article's claims. First, it does not take years to teach someone to hit a target at 500yds. It might take a day, if they'd never fired anything in their life before. I also dispute the idea that the systems within the weapon, namely, a laser rangefinder, a ballistic computer, a weather station and an inclinometer, are some magical panacea to the shooting problem. All those things are a solution to deterministic variables, like gravity, atmospheric density and the like. They are not a solution to non-deterministic variables like variations in muzzle velocity or, in particular, the wind, as the system would only be able to read wind at the shooter's position (unless they've managed to crank out some magical wind reading laser, of course.)

Everything that you are taught about position and hold, natural body alignment with the target, sight alignment, and shot release/follow through doesn't apply any less. If you suck at those things, all the fancy triggers and scopes in the world won't make you a better shooter. At best, I can see this thing being a useful tool to amalgamate all the previously mentioned systems into a single package with a nifty trigger on top, similar to what DND is trying to with this all-singing all-dancing sniper/observer target acquisition system they submitted to industry on MERX some months ago. At worst... I don't know. A crutch, maybe.
 

Fabius

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Illegio,
Agreed, the article is, like the majority of stuff coming out of a large percentage of media outlets, not completely accurate and lacking in any depth of thought.

When I mentioned windage being accounted for previously I was mistaken. Digging into the documents a bit more the company states that windage is still the responsibility of the shooter 100%.
That is enough to ensure that unless your squared away and experienced in reading wind your likely going to be missing a lot once you start engaging at any distance with much of a wind. Once you throw the other marksmen ship skills you listed into the mix the chances of an inexperienced shooter actually making hits is even less.

That said having the multitude of equipment used to confirm the deterministic variables condensed into one system does bear some value if as MeanJean alluded to they can get it to be reliable and miniaturized enough to actually be viable. I do think that it is simply a matter of time (quite possibly not that much time) until they do accomplish that task.


Such a system will make it easier for an experienced shooter to quickly and effectively engage out to the actual ballistic capabilities of the weapon. For the inexperienced not as much.

I do find the video capability interesting and it has a lot of valuable potential.
 

57Chevy

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                                  Article and video shared with provisions of The Copyright Act

'Smart Rifle' Begins Shipping to Gun Owners This Week
by Daniel Bean  17 May, 2013
ABC News

A Texas startup has developed a "smart rifle"that barely needs to be aimed.
The maker of the gun, being shipped to stores this week, brags that "even a novice shooter can become an elite long-range marksman in minutes."

The company, TrackingPoint, has said its "world's first" long range Precision Guided Firearms (PGF) integrate precision hardware, digital optics, and tracking technology to deliver an unmatched shooting experience. The line of rifles starts at about $22,500 and each comes packaged with an iPad mini including the interactive TrackingPoint mobile app.

"We're taking centuries old tech, firearms and ammunition, and introducing 21st century technology to it," TrackingPoint CEO Jason Schauble told ABC News.

The PGF line of rifles come equipped with what the company is calling the XactSystem, which uses a network tracking scope with digital display interface, laser tagging to "paint" a moving target, and a guided trigger that only lets the shooter fire when there is a high percentage shot.

The weapon is being introduced at a time when the debate over gun control has raised tempers on both sides of the argument.

Schauble said safety is paramount, just like with any other gun or rifle. "It is a firearm. It is controlled by federal law," he said.

He said a password can be set on the gun's scope software. This doesn't render the rifle useless, but it does lock any unauthorized users out of the precision technology.

Elliot Fineman, chief executive officer of National Gun Victims Action Council, said the "smart gun" is a "mixed proposition."

"I'm very much in favor of the password protection, but [if the user opts not to utilize password protection] this product gives shooters a better accuracy than, on average, most cops," Fineman said. He said the target accuracy of most police is three out of ten.

"To think that private citizens that are not trained could shoot better than 3 out of 10, it's scary," Fineman said.

David Chipman, a spokesman for Mayors Against Illegal Guns which lobbies for an expansion of background checks for people buying guns, said the PGF "is not your grandfather's hunting rifle used for sport and recreation this is a weapon designed to kill with precision."

"This technology potentially enables any two bit criminal to operate with the skills of a highly trained sniper," Chipman said.

Josh Horwitz, executive director of the Education Fund to Stop Gun Violence, dismissed the significance of locking the software.

"This is an industry hell bent on making weapons more lethal and taking no measures to extend safety," Horwitz said. "If this type of technology is transferred into semi automatic and automatic weapons, it would make it even more lethal."

The way the gun operates sounds like a video game. The visual scope on the PGF connects via WiFi the iOS app on an iPhone or iPad by way of ShotView. The feature shows a live video of the digital Heads Up Display (HUD) and video can also be recorded and shared online. Schauble said an Android app is on the way.

TrackingPoint is in the process of developing a dedicated, online community for TrackingPoint users to share videos and information with each other.

"There's a young, digital generation that will want to hunt and shoot, so we're not only developing a product for people that shoot today, but also the new digital generation," said Schauble.

He said the live streaming ShotView feature can be used to help instruct new shooters on the fly or to capture an impressive shooting range or hunting shot to show to others later.

"We've been surprised at how many older shooters and hunters embrace the product, too. This kind of tech helps them to still hunt for years or even take shots that may not be possible with traditional hardware," he said.

The PGF rifles, TrackingPoint's first product line, was introduced at this year's Consumer Electronics Show in January, but this week the company began fulfilling preorder requests with the first units shipping.

READ: State Department Orders 3D Gun Plans Offline

With this first run of PGF rifles, the CEO said TrackingPoint is selling directly to customers.

Schauble said his company has signed a contract to provide technology to some less expensive, short range Remington firearms, and those products will be distributed through vendors, but the distribution of other runs of TrackingPoint product will be decided on a case by case basis.

But with TrackingPoint's Precision Guided Firearms, Schauble said the main objectives are "trying to make existing, long-range shooters more capable."
"Right now, we're the most advanced tech company in outdoor shooting sports.
                                        ___________________________________________

YouTube video:
New "smart rifle" can hit virtually any target & then tweet about it
 

a_majoor

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While very interesting I actually find this goes "against the grain" of current military small arms thinking:

1. Small arms that fire bursting munitions like the XM-25, and;

2. Compact ammunition like CTA and LSAT to allow the soldier to carry more small arms ammunition in machine guns and automatic rifles.

Some of the capabilities like streaming video actually have utility in surveillance systems and perhaps are analogous to the automatic tracking/targeting systems on Gen 3.5 tanks like the Merkava 4.
 

GnyHwy

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#1 seems viable and even if it isn't lethal it will sure scare the crap out of them, and get them to move.  Too bad we can't use tear gas as I see that as being more effective.

#2 is too risky.  While the LSAT program will always exist, shaving weight of a soldier's load list one ounce at a time, with plastics and carbon fibre equipment and parts; I don't see us messing with ammunition such as CTA or caseless.  It's too risky an early in development, not to mention having to buy new weapons.  Perhaps implementing them in small batches to specialty units, after a crapload of testing.  With money dwindling and R&D along with it, I expect this one to take a back seat for a while.
 

a_majoor

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Guny:

While the XM-25 seems more likely to scare the crap out of people, I have read that several companies are adapting the rangefinder and fusing system from the XM-25 to traditional 40mm LV and HV grenades. That is a lot more "bang" for your buck, and utilizes weapons we already have. Longer term, we may see infantry "rifles" resemble the AA-12 and loaded with explosive rounds for the close engagements and 30-40mm medium velocity grenades for longer range or dealing with hard targets as one line of development.

Caseless and telescoped rounds have been in development for decades, but generally the cost advantage of regular cased ammunition outweighed any advantages of caseless. (The HK G-11 and a complimentary LMG version were actually adopted by the German Army just prior to the end of the Cold War. The collapse of the USSR and the costs of reunification scrapped that particular project, and the G-36 was adopted instead). LSAT has demonstrated a viable LMG prototype, and if there is a move to adopt a new, larger calibre of bullet to increase the effective range of rifles and LMG's to beyond the 3-600 m mark (6.5 and 6.8mm have been proposed) then an entirely new weapon and ammunition can be justified on these grounds.

One can make the argument that a larger upper receiver for an AR-15 pattern weapon to fire 6.5 or 6.8mm conventional ammunition would be cheaper, but then you will still have to create a new LMG to use the ammunition.

Sadly, politics will probably have a far greater role to play than ballistics, training or efficiency when selecting a new weapon.
 

Kirkhill

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How about applying the technology to something the size and shape of the M72 (perhaps using Metalstorm technology).

Then, rather than unbalancing the rifle and turning it in to an unwieldy block of plastic and steel, the rifleman can have an optimized rifle and still be able to carry multiple airburst/point detonation rounds on his back in ready to fire containers.

http://www.metalstorm.com/IRM/content/3gl.html

 

a_majoor

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Metalstorm had an interesting version of this built into the top of an Australian AUG rifle, although I havn't seen anything on this project lately.

Merging various ideas we could see a 6.5mm LSAT type weapon with a MV grenade launcher (metalstorm or regular) fitted with the XM-25 rangefinder and fusing system. Since one of the reasons to want LSAT is to reduce weight, we would probably want a 30 or 35mm grenade if it has similar lethality to the 40mm grenades.
 

McG

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And the US Army has bought at least a few of these.
US Army tests TrackingPoint smart-rifle scopes
BBC News
12 February 2014

The US Army is testing a "smart rifle" technology designed to improve the accuracy of shots.

A spokeswoman confirmed reports that its equipment-testing specialists had acquired six TrackingPoint rifles as part of efforts to identify state-of-the-art equipment.

The tech allows the user to place a virtual tag on a target seen through the weapon's scope.

If the trigger is pressed, it only fires if the gun is correctly lined up.

This prevents errors such as trigger jerk, range miscalculation and accidental firing from being a problem.

In addition, a Linux-based computer built into the scope can compensate for 16 calculated variables, including temperature, the expected spin-drift of the bullet and the direction the wind is blowing.


"I can only train a soldier so much," Lt Col Shawn Lucas from the army's Program Executive Office (PEO) soldier division told Army Times.

"However, for a relatively small investment, I can make a significant increase in probability of hit and overall effectiveness by making an investment in advanced fire control."

But one independent observer said the technology would not turn every soldier into a sniper.

"This isn't a revolutionary technology, but essentially laser-designation 'tagging' adapted from common use in more complex weapons systems for use on small arms," said Peter Quentin from the defence-focused Rusi think tank.

"It is not going to create 'super snipers' because it still cannot do what is the truly smart aspect of their skills - a full assessment of weather and other conditions that will affect the flight of the bullet and therefore requires considerable calculation to determine adjustments to the aim.

"But while this does not deepen capabilities, it has the potential to broaden them, improving the accuracy of larger numbers of less specialist personnel by enabling the 're-tagging' of a target rather than retaking of a shot."

According to the Austin, Texas-based firm TrackingPoint, the addition of its scope to a rifle delivers five times the first-shot success rate of traditional systems at distances of up to 1,200 yards (1.1km).

An associated app can also stream live video from the scope's heads-up display to a smartphone or tablet - allowing the shooter's tags to be monitored.

Civilian versions of its shooting systems cost between $10,000 to $27,000 (£6,030 to £16,280), depending on the weapon used.

"We believe this technology will revolutionise the effectiveness of our fighting forces as they perform their duty for our country," chief executive John Lupher told the BBC.

The firm is not the only one trying to make gunfire more accurate.

The Pentagon's Darpa research unit is developing a separate sniper scope called the One Shot XG that measures crosswinds gusting up to 54km/h (33.6mph), the range to the target and a resulting confidence score.

Lockheed Martin is taking a different approach by developing self-guiding bullets that can steer themselves towards a target by using tiny fins to adjust their course mid-air in order to hit laser-designated targets at distances of more than a mile.

Mr Quentin suggested the demand for such technologies was growing because of a tactical shift away from the use of suppression fire, used to fix an enemy in one position, towards a precision model.

"Precision is required when operating amongst populations, such as Afghanistan, where targets must be positively identified and civilian casualties avoided at all costs," he said.

"In such environments first-time hits and avoidance of collateral damage are paramount - it is not just about what you hit, but who you miss.

"Such systems, therefore, offer the potential to broaden the capability of forces' to deliver accurate fire on positively identified targets, but ultimately they can only be as smart as the personnel that operate them."
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-26158016
 

Halifax Tar

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MCG said:
And the US Army has bought at least a few of these. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-26158016

Ever the SupTech I have to wonder if someone looked at the ammount of expended small arms rounds over the last decade plus and if that cost isnt one that they are looking to get under control somehow.

Reading that BBC article it seems to me that that "smart rifle" would heavily curb the addage of win by overwhelming ammount of fire.

Just me always wondering about stock levels...
 

Oldgateboatdriver

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That's not what you want:

You want a gun that will send every round you fire where you want … You want a ZF1.

Just don't push the red button.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7jVsQToSfag
 

GnyHwy

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My argument would be that this crosses the "acceptable" computer human interaction threshold. 

Good shots don't need it, and weak shots don't know what they should do with it.

I can't even begin to start a list of the smoke and mirrors involved with presenting the benefits of this.  The basis of the argument for this is to bring average shooters to the level of experienced shooters.  I don't believe this is possible.
 
 

AirDet

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Oldgateboatdriver said:
That's not what you want:

You want a gun that will send every round you fire where you want … You want a ZF1.

Just don't push the red button.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7jVsQToSfag

One of my favourite as well...
 

Fishbone Jones

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Electronics will break or distort at the most inopportune times.

Basic musketry won't.
 
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