COMPUTER ENHANCED FIREARMS


A street warrior from the world of Cyberpunk 2.0.2.0 brandishes his computer-enhanced firearm. Image copyright R. Talsorian Games.

Computer Enhanced Firearms
Tech Level: 13

Computer-Enhanced Firearms (CEFs) are also called Cyber Guns, Smart Guns, or Genius Guns. They are a favorite of cyberpunk fiction and role-playing games, but also represent an ever growing trend in combining traditional firearms with information and communication technology. This is not a separate firearm category per se, but a series of enhancements that can be grafted onto any man-portable weapons technology, present or future. Standard firearms, coil guns, plasma guns, etc., can all be computer-enhanced as outlined in this article. In cyberpunk fiction, these enhancements often allowed skilled users a decisive tactical advantage over their foes in most firefights.

The goal of this technology is to integrate computers and other forms of micro electronics into every aspect of a firearm that could benefit from such enhancement. At the Tech level this is expected to become a full-blown reality (13), such enhancements will be of negligible weight and bulk and will not negatively affect weapon performance. However, such weapons will almost certainly be more expensive to produce than normal firearms.

Computer integration is already underway in many aspects of firearm design. Though some of the features below are controversial due to privacy and accessibility reasons, they do represent leaps forward in technical capability.

--User recognition locks

--Programmable electronic sights, especially for low-light and thermal imaging applications.

--Remote identification, using RFID chips integrated into the gun itself.

Other CEF innovations in the future may include:


REMOTE SIGHTING UPLINK

The view through a weaponís electronic sight is fed to a userís heads-up display or, at more advanced Tech Levels, to an implanted visual read-out, such as in a cybernetic eye or directly into the brainís visual cortex. This way, the user can target through a weaponís sight at any angle its held, allowing for greater accuracy from almost any position. This can also be useful for scouting around corners and such without the user needing to fully expose himself.

The uplink is usually depicted as being through one or more thin, flexible wires connecting the weapon and the user. However, the connection can also be wireless, but this can be interfered with by certain types of electronic countermeasures, and the broadcast, however weak, may be detected by enemy sensors.


REAL-TIME DIAGNOSTICS

Tiny sensors throughout the weapon keep the user updated with any maintenance or operational issues that may pop up during use. Keeping track of ammunition use, monitoring weapon temperature and metal fatigue, and more. Everything a user may need to know about the weaponís present status can be called up at a momentís notice.


NEURAL IMPULSE CONTROL

The weaponís systems have a direct link to the userís nervous system, either through a cybernetic jack, which directly plugs into a select nerve cluster, or through a sensor that can detect nerve activity through the skin. Either way, with practice, the user learns to utilize his nerve impulses to manipulate the weapon without having to move his hand or fingers.

This will enable the weapon to be fired by thought alone, if thatís desired. But more practically, with weapons that have a number of options available, a user can much more easily and quickly switch modes as needed. This may include switching from semi-auto for full auto fire, activating an underslung grenade launcher, Ďdialingí up more propellant in an ETC firearm for a more powerful shot, switching frequencies on a laser firearm, and more, depending on the exact nature of the weapon and its accessories.


REMOTE ACCESS

Radio transceivers embedded within the weapon would allow parties to remotely access its data in real time, as well as able to manipulate its systems, if desired. With satellite hook-ups, these remote parties can be up to halfway around the world.


USER RECOGNITION TRAP

Similar to the user recognition locks currently being developed today. However, instead of just locking an unapproved user out, the weapon unleashes a boobytrap on him as well. This may just involve an alarm and remotely alerting law enforcement, or it may involve much more sinister countermeasures, such as a full taser charge, designed to stun the current wielder, or even explosives that would cause the weapon to detonate like a grenade.


FURTHER INFORMATION

In Print:

Cyberpunk 2.0.2.0 by R. Talsorian Games

Shadowrun by FASA Corporation

On The Web:

http://www.voanews.com/english/archive/2008-04/2008-04-24-voa36.cfm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smartgun


Article added 8/21/09

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