Tuesday 7 November 2023

Smart riot gun refuses to fire if aimed at someone's head


To reduce accidental deaths during civil disturbances, firearms manufacturer FN Herstal has developed a gun that not only fires less-than-lethal elastomer projectiles, it has a digital smart sight that can recognize human heads and refuse to fire at them.

Probably the most difficult kinds of weapons to get right are the ones used to combat civil unrest. Unlike lethal arms that are intended to act as an ultimate deterrent, the sort used to quell riots and other civil uprisings is made to reassert control and (hopefully) deescalate a situation that has got out of hand.

The problem is striking a very fine line. The weapon needs to be able to supply sufficient force to deter violence, but not enough to cause serious injury. This is especially difficult with guns that fire rubber bullets or various baton rounds. If struck in the chest, enough force can be delivered to the target to temporarily incapacitate them or make them retreat. A headshot, on the other hand, risks being fatal.

To be formally unveiled at the MILIPOL Paris 2023 trade show, the FN Herstal Smart ProtectoR-303T fires 12.55mm FN SP caliber cartridges with elastomer rounds to an operating range of 5 to 25 m (16 to 82 ft) using compressed air. According to the company, it is designed for use by law enforcement to deal with crowd control, social disturbance, riots, day to day patrol, and public safety for large events. The projectiles are designed to break up on contact to prevent penetration, yet provide a deterrent beyond the range of hand-thrown projectiles.

However, the clever bit is in the electro-optical sights that include an on-board camera and imaging software that can detect in real-time if the gun is pointed at a human head. If it is, it lets out a visual and audible warning and locks the trigger mechanism.

In addition, the camera records images during firing, which can later be used for reviews or in court cases. The sight can even be used for pre-mission training to develop weapon skills with the help of a bespoke app and a projector display.

Source: FN Herstal/New Atlas.

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