RSS

The Bulletin

The self-aiming rifle has a surprising opponent: the NRA

Posting in Government


After a lot of anticipation, the futuristic self-aiming rifle is here. It allows anyone, regardless of skill, to hit a moving target up to 1,200 yards away on the first go.

Developed by Austin-based TrackingPoint, the "precision-guided firearm" can be bought for $22,000 to $27,000 a piece. According to company president Jason Schauble, it uses a variant of the lock-and-launch technology fighter pilots use to fire missiles. New Scientist explains:

  • The tracking system includes a computer, laser rangefinder, camera, and color display in a sighting scope mounted on top.
  • You track your quarry on the display (pictured) and push a button near the trigger to lock a red laser dot on the target.
  • After you choose a target, the weapon decides when best to shoot -- compensating for things like wind speed, arm shake, recoil, temperature, humidity, and curvature of the earth.
  • An algorithm uses image-processing to keep the laser dot on the target as it moves.
  • The algorithm increases pressure required to pull the trigger, reducing it when the blue crosshairs are right over the red dot -- that’s when a bullet is fired.
  • There's also Wi-Fi to stream imagery to an iPad (included), so shooters can share what they’re seeing on Facebook or YouTube.
  • The scope can be password protected, making the rifle function as an ordinary weapon.

The company has more civilian orders than it can handle for 2013 and is beginning to market to military and law-enforcement buyers. TrackingPoint has no competitors in production currently, but it’ll run into several types of resistance, including traditional hunters and target shooters, as well as gun-control advocates. Businessweek reports:

A third point of resistance will come from some gun-rights advocates. The National Rifle Association has long opposed "smart gun" technology that makes it impossible for anyone except for an authorized user to use a firearm. In the past, such proposed products have used biometric screening techniques such as fingerprint recognition to secure guns. Smart guns have never taken off commercially, however, partly because of NRA opposition and in part because past versions of the technology haven’t worked reliably. There hasn’t been much consumer demand for smart guns, either.

Schauble says TrackingPoint will respect the NRA’s concerns. GPS technology, for example, won’t be included. It would've allowed owners to locate stolen firearms, but might have offended those who fear the government would track their weapons.

[Via New Scientist, Businessweek]

Images: TrackingPoint

— By on May 29, 2013, 1:18 PM PST

Janet Fang

Contributing Editor

Janet Fang has written for Nature, Discover and the Point Reyes Light. She is currently a lab technician at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. She holds degrees from the University of California, Berkeley and Columbia University. She is based in New York. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure