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The World's Most Intellegent Gun?


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The World's Most
Intelligent Firearm
Australian IT

(AAP) -- James Bond would be impressed. A hand gun that speaks several languages, broadcasts the conversation to the police, fires lethal and non-lethal bullets and is activated only by the grip of the registered owner.
The Guinness Book of Records has declared the gun, officially known as a Variable lethality enforcement (Vle) weapon, the world's most intelligent firearm.
It has also named the Vle's big brother, which is 36 times its size and has a potential firing rate of one million rounds a minute, as the world's fastest.
Both are based on revolutionary ballistics technology invented by Australian Mike O'Dwyer, a self-taught physicist from a dusty Queensland outback town near Longreach.
The breakthrough uses electronics rather than mechanics; instead of moving parts and heavy magazines, it involves a bullet-stacked cylinder fired by electric impulse.
A solo cylinder can be used as a pistol, while a few dozen can be used together to create a ballistic system capable of firing a hailstorm of bullets ó or metal storm.
The weapons are touted as lighter, cheaper and faster than conventional firearms and, because they are electronic more easily linked to computers.
The technology is being developed and commercialised by Metal Storm Ltd, a Brisbane-based public company listed on the Australian Stock Exchange and the US Nasdaq.
Metal Storm general manager Australia Ian Gillespie says the company is moving defence into the digital age.
"The future is all about small, lightweight, mobile, cheap, smart weapons systems, highly technical, and very few human beings involved," he says.
"Because it's electronic, it can interface with other electronic systems, intelligence systems that can tell it what to do and you don't need a person there."
Successful demonstrations prompted once-sceptical US officials to contribute to research through agencies such as the Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).
They were impressed with the system's speed and need for less manpower.
A standard US mortar platoon has 27 people carrying 120 rounds of 81mm mortar, but this system needed only 13 people to carry 1920 rounds, says Gillespie.
A demonstration will be held in the US mid year to show how Metal Storm can be used with unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), that can collect intelligence but have no attacking power.
Gillespie says Metal Storm's weapons are light enough to give the tiny aircraft fire power, controlled by a remote computer, to protect convoys or return enemy fire.
Against the backdrop of the ongoing bloodshed in Iraq, the company is hoping the demonstration will inspire defence top brass or congressmen to fast-track development.
While Metal Storm's target market is the United States military, that spends more on defence than the rest of the world combined, it is also developing law enforcement and personal weapons.
The variable lethality enforcement gun is expected to tap into a growing market for so-called safe guns, that encompasses more than 700,000 US law enforcement officers and 65 million hand gun users.
The State of New Jersey has decreed that only safe guns may be sold within three years of the technology becoming available.
The law-enforcement gun can tell the police station when an officer has drawn his weapon, where he is and how many rounds are fired.
"It can tell both the user and the bad guy what it's doing ó it can say 'I'm on stun' or 'I'm on lethal', and it can speak in different languages," Gillespie says.
"If the officer is in an incident, he can switch the audio on so that the people at the station or the squads on the way to back him up can hear what's going on."
Metal Storm is working with the New Jersey Institute of Technology to team its smart gun with technology that only recognises the registered user's grip.
"That will significantly reduce the incidence of unintended shooting," Gillespie says.
Gillespie defends Metal Storm against criticism it is developing and commercialising weapons that will make killing more effective.
"It's technology that can save a lot more lives, because this is the technology we want people in our armed forces and those of our allies to have to protect against threat that our out there now," he says.
"There are people being killed every day in Iraq and Afghanistan and other parts of the world.
"We're not about developing specifically offensive capability ... if our people are going to have to defend themselves, we want them to have the best."
Metal Storm's weapons are still in the development and testing stage. None are yet on the market.
Gillespie says Metal Storm is undervalued on the market at present but admits it could be two years before the company, that owns 50 patents and has more pending, starts generating revenue.
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