May the Force be With You: Boeing Patents ‘Force Field’ Technology

Boeing has developed so called ‘force-field’ shields that may save vehicles from getting damaged due to nearby explosions.

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Tech News
2 min read
Rugby fans watching a game dressed as Star Wars ‘Storm Troopers’ in Hong Kong (Photo: AP)

US aviation giant Boeing has been granted a patent for a Star Wars-style ‘force field’ technology that would protect vehicles from nearby explosions.

Although the force field system would not block bullets, it would deflect the shockwaves resulting from an explosion to shield military vehicles.

Protective force fields form a popular concept in science fiction. Glowing energy shields are seen protecting machines and even spacecraft in the famous Star Wars and Star Trek series.

The new shockwave attenuation system will use one or more sensors that can identify the electromagnetic signature of an explosive device.

The light from this explosion will reach the vehicle before the shockwave does, which means the system has time to set up a defense.

An arc generator will use high-intensity laser pulses to excite and heat air molecules in the space between the vehicle and the blast site.

It then introduces an electric arc that travels along the electrically conductive path produced by the laser.

The energy directed into empty space produces a bubble called a laser-induced plasma channel (LIPC).

This plasma will absorb and deflect much of the incoming energy from the shockwave, thus protecting the vehicle. The system may also be able to slow and divert shrapnel being propelled by the shockwave.

The LIPC, however, would not have any substantial effect on a projectile aimed directly at the vehicle.

The patent, granted by the US Patent and Trademark Office on March 17, lays out a method for deploying this shock-wave attenuation system on a land vehicle, but it could also be used on ships or buildings.

It is not confirmed whether Boeing actually intends to build and test the shockwave attenuation system.

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