The advanced research arm of the US defense department has developed a bullet that can adjust its path in mid-air to hit a target. Apparently, it works pretty well.
According to DARPA, the Extreme Accuracy Tasked Ordnance (EXACTO) system “seeks to improve sniper effectiveness and enhance troop safety by allowing greater shooter standoff range and reduction in target engagement timelines.” EXACTO uses a 0.50 caliber round and optical sighting technology to course-correct mid-flight and compensate for the wind, weather, or any other factors that might result in missing the target.
It’s unclear how exactly the tech works (and the US military is quite unlikely to divulge that information) but what’s clear is that is does work, at least given DARPA’s latest round of live-fire tests. Watch below:
The most unsettling part of that video is that EXACTO allows a completely untrained person—shooting a rifle for the first time—to hit a moving target from very far away. Snipers in the military using smart bullets is one thing, but should civilians (or other, more nefarious forces) ever get their hands on them, it could become a rather grave problem.
“True to DARPA’s mission, EXACTO has demonstrated what was once thought impossible: the continuous guidance of a small-caliber bullet to target,” said Jerome Dunn, a program manager for DARPA, in a press release. “Fitting EXACTO’s guidance capabilities into a small 0.50-caliber size is a major breakthrough and opens the door to what could be possible in future guided projectiles across all calibers.”
Quartz has asked DARPA how much more testing needs to be done, and when the bullets are expected to actually be used by US military members. We’ll update this story if DARPA replies.