Science fiction has for years terrified and intrigued us with visions of future weapons, from Star Trek's phaser to the blaster that saved Han Solo's life, these weapons are beyond the realms of reality,.
Or at least they were.
Laser cannons are now a reality. So are weapons that can aim themselves, and invisible microwave weapons used for crowd control. The future is here, and it hurts.
While eyes are pointed at the skies for drones, robot soldiers are being deployed to guard bases and accompany troops on patrol. These small weaponised robots use software and sensors to help follow the troops and when the time comes, the operator can take control and use its weapons as a means of cover for retreating troops.
The railgun is here also, with its electromagnetic barrel it can propel a metal slug to over Mach 6, devastating the target with nothing but sheer speed and force.
While these weapons used to be caged to the realms of science fiction, the reality is far more terrifying.
This is the US Military's Active Denial System, or ADS. It's a truck-mounted high-powered microwave weapon that when directed at a person or crowd can produce a severe burning sensation of the skin. The Pentagon worked on the system in the hopes of finding a non-lethal crowd control weapon that could replace the water cannon. It's non-radioactive, non-lethal and safe to use, however it has caused controversy over the effects it causes to the body.
The X-51A WaverRider
is a terrifying response to America's increasing military commitments around the globe. Using a revolutionary scram jet engine, the missile is able to reach the hypersonic speed of Mach 5. Once trials are completed it will give the US Military a missile that can hit any target in the world from the US, within an hour.
The laser cannon has arrived
, no longer will it be relegated to SyFy TV shows and Star Wars. The US Navy's directed energy weapon fires a highly concentrated laser at incoming targets and is capable of destroying drones, small boats and missiles. While the laser is highly advanced the military designed it to be easy to use with game controllers being the main form of input.
The QinetiQ MAARS or Modular Advanced Armed Robotic System, is essentially a small robot tank
. It's a track-based robot that happens to contain a large machine gun, grenade launcher and a myriad of targeting sensors. While the weapons are controlled by a human, the robot has been designed for defence and patrol so it'll use in-built AI to help it follow troops or patrol a base.
The TrackingPoint XS1
poses a worrying question for the future of armed warfare. With a state-of-the-art connected scope, the holder simply tags the target and the gun's sensors work out distance, wind speed and elevation showing you exactly where you need to aim. Gone are the days of sharpshooters, replaced instead with scopes that'll work through Google Glass and help you fire through walls.
The railgun started life as a mythical weapon that often appeared in video games and sometimes showed its face in films (Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen). Using electromagnets to hurl a metal slug at hypersonic speeds, this weapon is the future of artillery and small arms, and now the US Navy has one. Constructed by BAE Systems, the railgun prototype can fire a metal slug at over Mach 6 and at a target over 110 kilometres away.