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  • Science Fiction is Here

    Posted by James R. Rummel on November 4th, 2004 (All posts by )

    StrategyPage.com is reporting that Israel has developed a recon rifle grenade. (Post from November 4, 2004.)

    It would appear that Israel Military Industries, Ltd. has developed a rifle grenade with a webcam and radio transmitter. Fire the grenade in a high arc and it’ll transmit still pictures of what’s below to a laptop on the way back down. Neato idea.

    There’s been a proliferation of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles in the military, some of them so small that they can be carried and operated by one man in the field. This means that they can provide real-time intelligence to the guys at the point of the spear, fast enough that it can actually be used in the sharp and intense environment of a firefight.

    This list of UAV’s worldwide shows that Israel has put a great deal of effort into developing this new technology. (In hindsight I suppose it was inevitable that they’d eventually try to find new applications.)

    But these little model airplanes are expensive, and they are complicated enough so that they sometimes don’t work. The Recon Rifle Grenade (RRG, for want of anything better) would eventually be more expensive, since any UAV is reusable but one of these nifty little devices aren’t. But the initial cost is less, and if one grenade doesn’t work due to a failed component then you just load up another and try again. With UAV’s you don’t have that option.

    Anyone else remember reading military sci-fi where stuff like this was wow-neato gear? Now if they’d only develop a flying car I’d be happy.

     

    10 Responses to “Science Fiction is Here”

    1. Dave Says:

      Working purely from memory, I believe the US Army is developing a mortar shell (60-81mm ?) that does the same thing as the Israeli rifle grenade. Should be possible for them to get a lot more height/range out of a mortar than a rifle grenade.

    2. Val Says:

      How about a rifle that fires both this Israeli grenade and the upcoming US range-finding explosive projectile that blows up right on top of bad guys hiding behind a barricade?

    3. Fred Says:

      Man, that’s really going to F-up generations of line-of-sight training.

      Now everything is line of site, and some SOB will stick GPS coord’s on the pics too, so the next GPS-driven mortar smart round will be right in your face.

      Man, it’s really going to suck to be an infantryman coming up against people armed with this stuff.

    4. j.scott barnard Says:

      http://www.moller.com/skycar/

    5. James R. Rummel Says:

      http://www.moller.com/skycar/

      I really know how den Beste feels. This flying car issue is one of them.

      So this skycar has been around for, what, 10 years or more? Never worked, don’t even have a working prototype, and the people behind it keep saying that if they just had a few more dollars, just ten million or so, then they’ll actually have something that will blow the socks off of the American car-buying public!

      I don’t want to sound too snarky. I value and cherish every one of my readers, doubly so for those that take the time to actually leave a comment. But instead of going mad trying to point out the absurdity of the skycar flying, let alone becoming a commercial success, I like to challenge my readers to show me a flying car that I can go out and buy tomorrow. If they can’t do that then there’s no point in discussing pie-in-the-sky projects that never deliver.

      James

    6. David Mercer Says:

      From what I can tell there isn’t necessarily any technical hurdle with making a flying car (aka a small VTOL aircraft), but there are massive safety issues (3D navigation…with millions of cars flying over LA….stuff like that) that need good technical and regulatory solutions.

      GPS makes it POSSIBLE, but you need more than that for consumer operable autopilots! Massive beacon infrastructure, etc. etc.

      So the ‘flying car’ part of having flying cars isn’t the hard part. :-(

      But yeah, every time I see something advertised on TV that was only science fiction in the 20th Century, I go “damnit, where’re the flying cars we were promised!” Just ask my wife :-)

    7. Ken Says:

      “From what I can tell there isn’t necessarily any technical hurdle with making a flying car (aka a small VTOL aircraft), but there are massive safety issues (3D navigation…with millions of cars flying over LA….stuff like that) that need good technical and regulatory solutions.”

      Given lots of flying cars, why in the world would they all be flying over LA. One of the advantages of flying cars is that they make commutes of hundreds of miles practical – which in turn makes living hundreds of miles from one’s workplace, school, shopping center, etc. practical, and even more importantly, makes locating all of those businesses hundreds of miles from each other also economically feasible.

      Get enough people into flying cars, and cities as we think of them today will be obsolete.

      How do we get there from here. Replace the regulatory regime we have now with mandatory liability insurance and nothing else. Insurance companies will then charge you based on your skill, the design of the machine, and what restrictions you’re willing to accept (no flying over crowded cities, etc., which will only encourage dispersal). Vendors will reap big bucks designing and introducing craft that are easy to fly safely (and thus cheap to insure and suitable for the mass market) rather than losing their shirts because the average people that would need such user-friendly controls aren’t allowed to fly them.

      It won’t happen overnight. But without regulatory changes, the odds are slim that it will ever happen in our lifetimes, which would be quite a bummer.

    8. Tyouth Says:

      Perhaps more doable (and just as much benefit, I think) would be driverless vehicles. Periodically spaced beacons control and guide the vehicle down the road. No driving, make that van a living room or office. Drive to the interstate, enter your destination into the vehicle computer, and kick back.

    9. geoffg Says:

      I recall seeing some tests of “smart munitions” about a year ago. Re: assault weapons in particular (rifle grenades), the idea is that you can fire them through a window or other opening, and using a laser sight, determine exactly when to detonate the round. Same holds true for shooting over walls, etc. Instead of lobbing the grenade over the wall, just sight directly above the barrier and when the round passes over it, it is then detonated at the exact distance necessary.

      The munitions have timers that detonate at the distance prescribed by the laser sight.

    10. incognito Says:

      The History Channel’s Modern Marvels series has a good one lately called Israeli Guns. Good show, and a good primer on IMI.