Scientists say they have used the technology to build a pistol-sized coilgun that is the smallest and most powerful of its kind
Artificial intelligence can outperform humans in designing futuristic weapons, according to a team of Chinese naval researchers who say they have developed the world’s smallest yet most powerful coilgun.
The prototype weapon developed by professor Zhang Xiao and her team at the Naval University of Engineering in Wuhan has a 12cm (4.5-inch) barrel, about the size of a pistol, which contains three battery-powered coils that generate an electromagnetic field. This electromagnetic field means that, unlike a conventional gun, the bullet does not touch the sides as it passes through the barrel. Researchers found the bullet’s kinetic energy as it was could reach almost 150 joules, more than twice the energy needed to fire a fatal shot.
The most powerful portable coilgun at present is the GR-1 “Anvil”, a US$3,750 rifle released by Los Angeles-based company Arcflash Labs earlier this year which is available for pre-order on the commercial market.
The company says on its website that it can generate muzzle energy of 85 joules, comparable to a large airgun.
The AI gave the human designers a huge set of optimised data points that nearly doubled the weapon’s efficiency compared with the US rifle by maximising the joint performance of many different components, she said. This resulted in a massive reduction in the weapon’s size and increased its output energy.