6 New Weapons That Are Making War Look Like a Cartoon
Let's face it: If you told Genghis Khan or Alexander the Great that current wars are fought using giant metallic birds that poop explosives all over people, they'd think you were shitting them. Then they'd probably cut your face off and feed it to their dogs, just because.
Likewise, when we see the prototypes that weapons designers are testing, we realize the battlefield of the future will be utterly insane.
So imagine you're on the battlefield of the future. You're holed up inside a bombed-out building, your future-rifle aimed out a busted window. The door behind you is closed and braced securely.
Your jawline is suitably magnificent.
But slowly, silently, something comes oozing under the door. And that something is a slimy robot.
The Blob Bot, which is hilarious to say out loud repeatedly, is a real prototype robot made out of a slimy, almost liquid substance and is actually capable of oozing around and changing shape by itself. It is impossible to read that description and not be reminded of this guy:
But sadly, the Blob Bot looks like this:
Imagine that expanding rapidly in the anus of an insurgent.
We're, uh, assuming the final product won't need that huge bundle of cables trailing behind it everywhere. But that's just its initial state, right? It probably looks a lot more menacing when fully deployed ...
OK, so it's kind of a sticky, partially inflated soccer ball.
The Blob Bot is defined as a "chemical robot" (we're mildly offended that they'd use the R word so liberally here), and it moves thanks to a process called "jamming," basically filling its empty areas with air and letting it out as necessary to control the shape. You can watch it in action here:
Yes, military technology has advanced to a point where we have been able to replicate the flopping movements of a dying fish. Granted, the Blob Bot is still very early in development, but when it's finished, its DARPA-sponsored creators hope it will be able to"squeeze through tiny cracks in pursuit of its target" and then ... spy on it with tiny cameras? Explode into a mass of goo? Sneak into sandwiches and hope its target chokes on it? We don't really know, because they never say what exactly their goal here is. All we know is it sounds creepy as hell.
Build weapons first, ask questions later.
Kitty Corner Shot
So you make it out of the building and are now walking through an urban war zone, gunshots echoing in the distance. You reach a corner leading into an alley. Being the cautious soldier that you are, you hunker down, ready for anything that might spring out. You see movement and take aim ...
Whew, it's just a cat. You let down your guard. Wait ... why isn't it moving? Why does it have that dead look in its eyes? And then you hear a BANG. You have been killed by the Kitty Corner Shot.
Oh, it may look like a state-of-the-art gun with a stuffed cat stuck to the end of it, but ... well, that's what it is.
Finally, we have the technology to make this possible.
The trick is that the front part of the gun bends sideways, with a sighting system that doesn't require you to lean out with it. So if you're shooting from behind a corner, all the enemy sees is a cat. An innocent, dead-eyed, freakishly long-legged, sometimes floating-above-the-ground cat. As ridiculous as this sounds, the logic behind it is pretty solid -- when you're in the battlefield, one second can make the difference between life and death. The split second your enemy spends looking at that cat doll, wondering what the holy fuck is going on, can make that difference.
We know what you're thinking: By that logic, you could strap a Joan Rivers mask to the front of the gun, and it would still get the enemy's attention. This is true, but you also need to use something that the other soldier won't instinctively want to open fire on.
DROP THE HAMMER!
And if you think no soldier would carry a weapon like this for fear of looking like a pansy -- well, the kitty corner shot was actually created by the Israeli Special Forces during one of their operations (according to this segment on future weapons by the Discovery Channel). These are the same guys who make The Expendables look like The Golden Girls.
If you look into his eyes for a few seconds, you will feel a little pee coming out.
Also, this thing is actually pretty creepy when you consider that every time you shoot it, part of the cat's face gets blown off, disfiguring it beyond recognition.
The genius of this weapon is that there is no way to adapt to it. You can't just go around blowing away every kitten that comes along. Just look at this adorable little guy ...
Too late. You're dead.
You lie wounded on the battlefield of the future, having been shot repeatedly by a stuffed kitten. You wait for a medic to come get you, but instead, a robot rolls up. Hey! Maybe the robot will help!
The robot proceeds to eat you.
This is your medic, so maybe being eaten isn't that bad.
"EATR Robot" stands for Energetically Autonomous Tactical Robot ... Robot. It also stands for a machine that literally eats people. So those initials are a really big coincidence, when you think about it.
The EATR's steam engine is specially designed so that the machine's claw can grab a piece of biomatter (like, say, you) and throw it into the burner to be used as fuel. In other words, this is a machine fueled by death, and it really exists. It also looks like a giant Swiss army knife.
This is the lamest damned- HOLY SHIT IT HAS A CHAINSAW!
The idea is to use these guys to do long-term reconnaissance in enemy territory, because apparently satellites suck at doing that (for one thing, their method doesn't involve burning people to death). Since refueling can become a bit of problem for the EATR when there's no delicious human flesh within reachable distance, it can also feed itself by ripping off tree branches and bushes. Since they don't provide much energy, you can expect to see trails of destroyed bushes and trees that lead right to an energy-drained EATR.
Or maybe it's just playing dead so it can grab you by surprise.
WALL-E doesn't look so friendly now, does he?
These guys are run purely by AI, which is a great idea because how could that possibly go wrong? In a stroke of genius, the military also decided to equip them with DARPA's SELF program, which enables these man-eating self-thinking robots to replicate themselves by building their own copies. The SELF program also means they can make any hardware and software upgrades they deem necessary, like for example if they decide that decorating their hulls with severed human heads would be a good idea.
So if you were wondering what our enemies will look like in the wars of the future, there's a very possible answer right here:
The robot's teeth marks have healed, and you return to the battlefield of the future, encouraged because your sergeant has told you that the new Transformer TX will be entering service soon. Can it be? You haven't dared to imagine Transformers would have a place on the battlefield since you were 13 or so.
Before you get too excited about this one, though, we have to clear something up. A Transformer is a car that transforms into a giant robot and saves the universe. A Transformer TX, on the other hand, is a car that transforms into ... well, a car, only with wings and helicopter blades.
And that's pretty much it. It's kind of the Transformer you drew on the back of your notebook when you were eight. It's a jeep with helicopter parts stuck to it. The entire concept for this one is, "Let's put helicopter parts on a Humvee and see what happens!" Then someone else said, "Wait ... what if we add wings to it, too?" and everyone in the room just started clapping.
"Johnson, you genius."
This was commissioned by DARPA, which means they literally don't give a shit how ridiculous it looks. DARPA is the Pentagon's research wing, and its mission is "to prevent technological surprise to the U.S." which means it's paid to seriously consider every single idea that comes its way, no matter how stupid it sounds. It's only natural that the researchers' common sense should become atrophied after a while. The problem is that sometimes those ideas get approved, and DARPA ends up adding giant dinosaur legs to a submarine or something. But in this case, it could've been much worse -- here's a rival bid for the Transformer TX:
That looks like rejected concept art for a 1968 film called 2010: When Everything is Helicopters.
The Transformer TX is capable of seating four people and has an automated takeoff system, which means that soldiers don't have to know how to pilot a plane to get it off the ground. How do they land it if none of them has aviator skills, you ask? Well, um ...
"They don't. They live in the sky and have wild adventures."
"Johnson, you're on fire today."
The Pentagon hopes to get some prototypes in the air by 2015, which is real lucky, because we heard we won't be roads by then.
So you're still a soldier of the future, and you're on a mission where you need to stealthily swim behind enemy lines, hopefully ending the trip by slowly emerging from the tide with a knife in your teeth. But you're not just swimming, because this is THE FUTURE. No, you'll be using a Powerswim.
Aka "The Dick Glider."
Like the Kitty Corner Shot, the Powerswim is a relatively simple contraption: It's a "human-powered swimming device" capable of making swimmers move 150 percent faster than normal with the same amount of effort. It was designed by DARPA to help Navy SEALs reach their destinations quickly without the use of a submarine, a motor propeller or anything else that is cool.
Nope, this shit is old hat.
But what's so ridiculous about it? Well, for starters, it makes you look like a giant dork, as the head of the project kindly demonstrates in this mine of unintentional comedy gold:
He even mentions bringing the Powerswim to his pool and teaching 25 people to use it, in what was probably the saddest birthday party ever.
"I'm a genie in a bottle. ... It helps if you sing it, guys."
There's also the small inconvenience none of the articles or videos about the Powerswim thinks to mention: the fact that it seems to be constantly slapping your junk.
"It's actually quite pleasurable."
The Powerswim was designed to be swiftly removed mid-swim and dumped in the sea, like in case someone else swims by and you're ashamed to be seen in it. We also can't imagine it being that easy to take off, unlike the piece of equipment it's meant to replace:
The Powerswim 1.0.
The Powerswim is "currently in the packaging stage," as the Pentagon's top scientists presumably try to figure out how they fuck the can fit this thing into a decent-size box and, if possible, design a logo that doesn't look completely ridiculous.
The only thing that would look sillier would be, we don't know, shoving the swimmer inside a torpedo and firing him at the enemy.
Underwater Express (Human Torpedoes)
Ah, here we go. As you find yourself zipping through the water in a huge bullet, this will be the precise point at which you, the soldier of the future, realize you are living in a Wile E Coyote cartoon.
The Underwater Express is either a submarine shaped like a torpedo or a torpedo capable of carrying people inside it, depending on how you prefer to think of it. This thing can go twice as fast as the fastest submarine in the world, leaving a trail of exploding dolphins and baby seals in its path.
"There has to be some way we can make sailing hundreds of feet underwater in a metal can less safe."
How is this possible? Well, the Underwater Express uses something called "supercavitation," which is when a bubble of gas is formed around a speeding object, allowing it to move much faster than it should. This effect is usually reserved for torpedoes, which, as a reminder, are commonly intended to crash into things and explode.
One of the big drawbacks for torpedoes that use this method (like the Russian Shkval) is that they're not super-good when it comes to maneuverability and steering. It's bad enough when we're talking a big block of explosives, but what about when they're transporting important stuff like, oh, people? In fact, they're currently testing a 100-knot prototype of the Underwater Express just to see if they can steer it at all.
The fact that this thing looks like a bullet isn't exactly encouraging.
If all goes well, the military plans to set up a comprehensive network of human torpedoes ferrying people and materials across large bodies of water, totally not crashing into one another. The Underwater Express was conceived by (you guessed it) DARPA, probably after someone there saw this poster:
"Who is that man and how is he doing that?! Find him now!"
Danny Vittore is a freelance writer. If for one reason or another you want to contact him, his email is Dannyvittore@gmail.com
For more insane ideas that are coming to life, check out 5 Famous Sci-Fi Weapons That They're Actually Building and 5 Amazing Buildings of the Future (And How They'll Kill You).
And stop by Linkstorm to David Wong fight an EATR robot.
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