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Point-and-Shoot: TrackingPoint's New Linux-Controlled AR-15s 219

Ars Technica takes a look at the next generation of TrackingPoint's automatically aimed rifles (not "automatic" in the usual sense), and visited the shooting range where they're tested out. Like the company's previous generation of gun (still in production, and increasingly being sold to government buyers), TrackingPoint's offerings integrate a Linux computer that makes acquiring and tracking a target far easier and more accurate than it would otherwise be. Unlike the older models, though, this year TrackingPoint is concentrating on AR-15s, rather than longer, heavier bolt-action rifles. A slice: The signature "Tag-Track-Xact" system has gained additional functionality on the AR models, too. With the bolt-action guns, there was only one way to put a round onto a target: first, you sighted in on the thing you wanted to hit and depressed the red tagging button just above the trigger. A red pip would appear in the scope’s crosshairs, and you’d place the pip onto the target and release the button. The scope’s rangefinding laser would then illuminate the target to measure its distance, and the image processor would fix on the object; if you moved, or if the target moved, the red pip would remain atop the target. Then, to fire, you squeezed the trigger and lined the crosshairs up with the target’s pip. When the two coincided, the weapon fired. This method works fine for a bolt-action rifle where every round has to be manually chambered, but it’s less than ideal for a carbine, which one might want to fire off-hand (i.e., standing up and aiming) or from the hip. With this in mind, the AR PGFs have a new "free fire mode," in which you can tag a target once and then shoot at it as many times as you want by pulling the trigger directly, with all the shots using the ballistic data from the first shot’s tag. That means, says writer Lee Hutchinson, a rifle "with essentially 100 percent accuracy at 250 yards."
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Point-and-Shoot: TrackingPoint's New Linux-Controlled AR-15s

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  • Re:Question (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Sarten-X ( 1102295 ) on Sunday August 10, 2014 @11:57PM (#47644979) Homepage

    How many more children will die because of this invention?

    I'm going to go with "none in the foreseeable future".

    Must we have something worse than Sandy Hook for people to wake up and say "no" to gun violence

    How about the Bath School disaster [], where 45 people died, mostly children? Or perhaps looking away from human causes, we could consider infant diarrhoea, which kills a couple million children per year and can be cured with a few pennies' worth of salt? How about political violence and genocides, which kill thousands of civilian children?

    The simple answer is that there is no simple answer. The Bath School disaster was done with explosives. Infant diarrhoea is mostly a problem because parents don't have access to medical care, or realize that they need it. Political conflict is never so simple as having the good guys fight the bad guys - all sides think their righteous virtues are worth dying for, and worth having innocent people die for.

    The reality of life is that it's trivial to kill someone. A human body is an incredibly complex machine, with billions of interacting parts, and it's just so easy to screw it up fatally. Sure, you could ban guns with fancy sights, but it's still just as easy to build a bomb, grab a knife, or slip a bit of poison into a meal.

    Let's say "no" to pithy slogans and short-sighted politically-convenient campaigns.

  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Monday August 11, 2014 @12:14AM (#47645009) Homepage

    It's an aimbot for real rifles. Now, any rifleman can be a sniper.

    Yes, it's too big, too complicated, and too expensive. That's a temporary problem. Ever see the first laser sight, from the 1980s? It used a helium-neon laser tube and required a power cord. There's been some progress since then. This aimbot technology should be down to smartphone size, if not cost, soon enough.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 11, 2014 @12:27AM (#47645051)

    Remote controlled troops will kill the terrists for US!

    Other way around. This is the perfect assassination weapon.

    Politicians will be queuing up to ban it as soon as they realize how big a threat it is to them. All the "terrists" need to do is to set the suitably disguised receiver and barrel of the rifle on an intentionally randomizing mount pointing where a politician is speechifying, tag the legislator via a phone link as soon as they're in sight, then walk away. A timer on the trigger can keep clicking away after a preset interval to get the job done.

    Who knows, this might be the Colt Peacemaker of our day?

  • One simple answer. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by khasim ( 1285 ) <> on Monday August 11, 2014 @02:13AM (#47645255)

    The simple answer is that there is no simple answer.

    There is one simple answer.

    People (on average) are less afraid of things that they are FAMILIAR with and that they FEEL they have more control over. So people are comfortable driving to the airport but worry about the flight.

    People are scared of "terrorists" killing them but are, statistically, more likely to be killed by someone in their own family.

    So the scariest thing would be someone that you don't know who is planning to kill you or your child for a reason you don't understand.

    But the reality is that if you're living in the USofA and you're white then you will die from the food you've chosen to eat and the exercise that you've chosen to skip. But since you have control over that (I'll start tomorrow) and it's familiar you won't worry about it.

  • by ColdWetDog ( 752185 ) on Monday August 11, 2014 @02:58AM (#47645341) Homepage

    Take your meds. The ATF probably wants to buy these things.

    Since these guns have been all over the gun-nut press for the past couple of years, I'm sure that various three letter government agencies have heard about them and paid them some visits. Most cordial visits.

  • by Chas ( 5144 ) on Monday August 11, 2014 @06:36AM (#47645781) Homepage Journal

    There is no "overkill".

    There is only "kill" with varying levels of confidence.

    Shoot a guy once, and there's always the possibility he's not dead.

    Shoot him 300 times, and yeah, you're pretty certain of him.

    Shoot him with a missile, and now you're sure he's not just merely dead, he's really most sincerely dead. it from outside it's blast radius...(See "Fireball in 10x10 room")

  • Re:Question (Score:5, Insightful)

    by trout007 ( 975317 ) on Monday August 11, 2014 @07:09AM (#47645855)

    Go look at the real data. Homicides are declining in Austrailia and the US. Since Austrailia banned guns the firearm murder rate dropped but it dripped faster than the overall homicide rate which means that quite a few killers still decided to kill even without a gun. In the same time the US had more guns and more people carrying guns and also saw a decrease in homicides. If you remove the places with strict gun laws the homicide rate drops even further.

  • by gmhowell ( 26755 ) <> on Monday August 11, 2014 @07:25AM (#47645895) Homepage Journal

    AA-12? [] Sort of an overkill for a personal weapon, I'd say...

    That's loser talk.

  • by CrimsonAvenger ( 580665 ) on Monday August 11, 2014 @07:28AM (#47645909)

    Its still not gonna be terribly accurate with a smoothbore barrel.

    Does the phrase "M1A1 Abrams" have any meaning for you?

    Hint: the Abrams gun is a 120mm smoothbore. It's probably the most accurate tank gun in current use.

To avoid criticism, do nothing, say nothing, be nothing. -- Elbert Hubbard