PUBLISHED: 06:10 EST, 26 April 2012 | UPDATED: 08:22 EST, 26 April 2012
It sounds like something from a science fiction film, but soon, a ‘magic bullet’ that floats around in the air waiting for its target could become science fact.
This far-fetched sounding piece of ammunition isn’t designed to kill, though.
Called ‘Nonlethal Warhead for Miniature Organic Precision Munitions’, there isn’t even a prototype yet – but it’s on the U.S Army’s wish list.
It’s been requested through the U.S Government’s ‘Small Business Innovation Research’ program, which encourages companies to research and build products in return for a potential commercial deal.
For the floating bullet, the Army admits that ‘this effort will require innovative research and advancements in non-lethal technologies which can be packaged within a very small volume and weight’ and suggests that designers should consider ‘mechanical, such as rubber balls; acoustic; chemical; electrical; or dazzle’.
The idea certainly isn’t pie in the sky, as the U.S Army already has a ‘kamikaze’ robotic drone dubbed Switchblade, which quietly hovers before dive-bombing and blowing up a target.
It launches from a tube before its wings fold out as it flies into the air.
The U.S. Army is paying manufacturer AeroVironment $4.9million for the drones to help it develop a new way of killing suspected militants.
The drones have a miniature electric motor and transmit live video from overhead, which helps soldiers identify the enemy.
The operators can then send a message to the drone ‘to arm it and lock its trajectory onto the target’, the company said.
The drone will fly into a target and detonate a small explosive – but it can still be disarmed at the last moment even if it is heading for a kill.
The Army’s Close Combat Weapons Systems (CCWS) signed the contract for the drones with AeroVironment last June.