Governments are notoriously good at keeping secrets. A veil of mystery covers top secret government facilities like Area 51 and Sector 7. People speculate that governments have found proof of the existence of aliens, but are keeping them under wraps. Others believe governments play an intrinsic role in drug trafficking. Sure, some conspiracies are far-fetched; but some have been proven very real, and all the more intriguing for it.
Weapon development is one aspect of government activity that people are particularly intrigued by. With all the advances in technology the Western world has seen in recent years, it’s perhaps unsurprising that some incredible, sci-fi-like weapons aren’t just in movies – they’re making an appearance in real life.
War is an unfortunate reality – and a big business – that sees governments constantly investing money into developing ever newer and better weapons. Scientists and engineers study ways to create sneaky spy devices, better ways to protect their own soldiers and more effective weapons. All of their research leads to creative devices that seem fictional.
Maybe they draw inspiration from movies or maybe movies have an inside look into what scientists are developing; either way, many weapons on this list will call to mind some very popular movies.
Some of these weapons have been around for years and seem way ahead of their time, while others are in developmental stages. It’s amazing to see the things the governments are producing to use in war and some of these inventions make it seem like robots will soon take over the warfront; maybe that’s the ultimate goal. Either way, seeing these devices in real life shows exactly how far our technology has come.
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11 Robotic animals
This seems like something more fitting for a zoo than for a war, but apparently robot animals are in high demand in battle zones. Of course, these animals are definitely more robotic than animal, since they have hardly any physical resemblance to cute and fuzzy creatures; instead of being warm and cuddly, they’re hard metal structures. Scientists have developed two robotic animals: a mule and a cheetah, each with a specialized function.
The robotic mule is just what you’d expect — four legs and a table-like top. The mule is made to carry extremely heavy weighted objects through rough terrain where other vehicles can’t move. While the structure doesn’t have a head, scientists included “ears” so it can respond to verbal commands and “eyes” so that it can move easily on its own.
The robotic cheetah is a machine that moves faster than anything on land, even real cheetahs. Other than this trait, however, the device doesn’t do anything terribly exciting; it was created as a safe and quick way to relay messages to people in war zones. By sending a machine, messages will be able to be transmitted quicker than if a person had to deliver them. The metal structure of the “body” is almost indestructible so it can traverse through any war-zone.
10 “Smart” glasses
Sort of like the Google glasses, but way more effective, this invention was created primarily with police forces in mind and made its debut at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. These “smart” glasses are regular glasses that fit your face, but have a small supercomputer that rests over one lens.
The glasses’ function is to scan faces of passersby and run them against a central database. They single out people who are more likely to create a disturbance by checking their records through facial recognition.
This way, police are better able to focus their attention on people who are more at risk for creating an uprising and hopefully prevent it. Sounds like they’d be useful in Baltimore right about now.
9 Fly spies and hummingbird drones
They say that flies on the wall see everything, and now spying flies exist. Recently, spying animals have made quite a splash. Governments have invested in research to create hummingbird spy drones and fly bots — robotic animals equipped with small cameras that transmit video feed to remote spies.
Governments hope to deploy these spying animals into war zones in order to gain more intel into the enemy. They believe that cameras disguised in animal form will be the best way to get in and out of secret meetings without being detected.
Governments also hope to use fly bots to scope out areas decimated by chemical explosions and to even seek out potential chemical disasters before they occur. There haven’t been any reports on sending these little guys on a mission, but the technology seems ready to go.
8 Taser Shockwave
This one is great for crowd control. It was released in 2008 and has been employed by the military quite frequently since. The Taser Shockwave is a grid of electronic units that are used to shock crowds from a distance.
Once the units emit a shockwave, it’s transmitted through the air and is able to stun people without direct contact, making them scarily effective.
The taser is able to shock people within 25 feet so it’s extremely useful in quelling riots in crowds. The units that comprise the Taser can be stacked upon each other indefinitely; the more that are stacked together, the longer the Taser will be and the more area it can cover.
PETMAN, an acronym for Protection Ensemble Test Mannequin, is a robot that is used to test new clothing for military personnel. The PETMAN can walk and move all its limbs and looks surprisingly human when it does. When PETMAN moves in a crowd of humans, it’s impossible to distinguish it from living people.
There has been speculation that the PETMAN wasn’t really designed to test clothing. Instead, people believe the U.S. government aims to release PETMAN robots onto the battlefield to aid humans fighting.
6 Invisibility cloak
A real life Harry Potter gadget, but it doesn’t have actual magical powers. Instead of using magic to hide the wearer, it uses science. This “cloak” isn’t really cloak either; it’s a suit in a camouflage pattern.
Camouflage is an extremely important part of warfare; it can be the determining factor in whether someone lives or is shot. Yes, camouflage currently exists, but it’s not advanced. It’s so bad that army personnel have been complaining about it for years.
Now, this new camouflage pattern is so effective that it helps soldiers completely blend into the background. Scientists developed this new pattern by studying thousands of different kinds of scenery and reduced pictures down to the pixels to emulate them in the new gear. The camouflage even includes live fractals that mimic the direct surroundings. It’s so effective that it makes people look – almost – invisible.
5 Active Denial System
This piece of weaponry, released in 2008, has been nicknamed “America’s Ray Gun”. The ADS is a weapon soldiers carry that acts like a microwave ray gun.
It shoots a stream of electromagnetic waves that are instantly absorbed by the top layer of skin, which creates an immensely sharp pain. This intense pain causes people in the line of fire to flee from the area, leading the military to nickname it the “Goodbye Gun”.
The ADS has been used in America and abroad. Prison guards have used it on inmates and the U.S. Army has used it in Iraq. However, after a few months of use abroad, the weapon was recalled without a reason. The government claims the gun causes no lingering effects, but concerns endure around possible long-term side effects.
4 PHASR rifle
This is another scientific development in the realm of weapons that don’t cause actual injury. The PHASR (Personnel Halting and Stimulation Response) rifle is composed of a handheld laser array, which is called a dazzler. When the weapon is fired it shoots a ray that causes temporary blindness and disorientation in anyone in its way.
It uses a green laser to calculate distance and intensity before firing. The weapon only causes temporary blindness, which allows the weapon to sneak through the “blindness inducing weapons ban” of 2009. The dazzlers were originally mounted to U.S. soldiers’ guns, but are now a gun of their own.
3 Seizure gun
The study to create a seizure-inducing gun began all the way back in the 90s, when Pikachu inspired the U.S. government. An episode of Pokemon where Pikachu released lighting bolt-like shocks resulted in seizures in 700 Japanese viewers, and inspired the government to create a similar weapon.
They began to search for a way to create a gun that would induce a seizure when fired. The device was designed to blast strong electromagnetic pulses that would cause disruption of voluntary muscle control in the target.
This one never materialized out of the government’s facilities because its effectiveness couldn’t be tested on humans. Since they were never able to confirm it wouldn’t kill someone, they just kept this nasty weapon in storage.
2 ADAPTIV invisibility cloak
This is a brand new weapon developed in Sweden. ADAPTIV is a system applied specifically to tanks that runs via infrared and other electronic frequencies. The ADAPTIV system is applied to the outer surface of a tank and, when activated, allows the tank to blend into the background, making it almost completely invisible.
If that wasn’t enough, ADAPTIV can also make a tank appear as something else – often harmless, like a car. It was released in 2013 but isn’t expected to make into general usage for quite a while.
1 “Iron Man suit”
It’s not officially called that, but this suit has so frequently been likened to the comic book hero’s suit that the name ‘Iron Man Suit’ looks like it may be sticking.
The Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit (TALOS) created by SOCOM is a full body metal suit that looks eerily like Iron Man’s. This suit is an armored exoskeleton that can induce superhuman strength, respond directly to brain stimulation, and act as an armor.
This suit isn’t going to be available to everyone; it’s being created specifically for the special ops team. A few companies have started producing it, but its manufacturing is incredibly expensive. The major drawback to the suit is that it has to be charged and loses battery really quickly. If only they could invent a power source like the one in Iron Man…