Laser Technology Foils Pirates on High Seas
"Har! Har!" You think it's easy being a pirate these days? Not with the latest pirate-fighting technology it's not. It's not all sitting in dinghies and waiting for huge oil cruisers to kidnap for ransom. Now the British have come up with a laser-based system that is non-lethal but leaves pirates blinded (temporarily) and bewildered, while the cruiser's security men surround them.
"This is very much a non-lethal weapon," Bryan Hore of BAE Systems in Farnborough, U.K., told New Scientist.com. The system, takes into account the atmospheric conditions and the range of the target and will automatically regulate the intensity of a laser beam focused on the marauders. Operators make sure the intensity is such that there is no eye damage. While the effects are not permanent, the pirates may wish they were back in the days of wearing eye patches.
Sunglasses are no protection, either. In fact, wearing them would only exacerbate the effect, because the green laser light would appear even brighter contrasted against the darkened background.
Then, avast, matey, prepare to be boarded, for your pirating days are over. Being vision-impaired the modern-day pirates would find it hard to employ their usual weapons, AK-47 assault rifles and rocket-propelled grenades. They'd resemble sitting ducks rather than Capt. Jack Sparrow.
According to anti-piracy organization, the International Maritime Bureau, there were 430 pirate attacks last year, an increase of 5.6 percent from the previous year. BAE developed its system thinking that more firepower was unneeded, especially if the crew was to be protected, so they came up with a technology that would disarm the pirates without harming them.
Right now BAE is looking for backing from commercial developers so it can be made available in as little as a year.