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This handheld 'cyber rifle' lets soldiers shoot down drones without firing a shot

This handheld 'cyber rifle' lets soldiers shoot down drones without firing a shot
PHOTO COURTESY OF SHUTTERSTOCK

We told you recently about a high-tech weapons system that "shoots down" drones by jamming their radio signals. It's impressive, and safer than using bullets or missiles, but it's also a bulky setup that a soldier can't exactly carry around in the field.

That's why Captain Brent Chapman, a Research Scientists at the Army Cyber Institute at West Point, spent 10 hours and $150 putting together a cyber rifle. In a demo at the recent Association of the United States Army Annual Meeting Exposition, the cyber rifle knocked out a drone and the security on a scale model bunker.

Here it is in action.

At its heart, the cyber rifle is a Raspberry Pi computer, a Wi-Fi radio and an antenna wrapped in a package that's familiar to soldiers. That means it's really more of a high-tech hacking tool than a traditional "weapon."

The way it knocked out the drone, for example, was to take it over using a security flaw unique to that model. But while it won't go around knocking every drone out of the sky, having a programmable hacking tool on hand could come in handy in future high-tech wars.

Speaking to Popular Mechanics, Chapman explains, "It was something that we built in order to illustrate the power of enabling the soldiers at the tactical level to 'make' in support of a mission." In other words, he wants soldiers on the ground to have the tools to build whatever they need to accomplish the job in the moment, which saves time and money.

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