7 Sci-Fi Weapons That Are or Could Soon Be a Reality

Here are some interesting weapons that appear to be inspired by sci-fi.
Christopher McFadden

Are there any weapons from sci-fi that could be built today? As it turns out there are some interesting developments in military tech that could be bringing some sci-fi tech into reality. 


Do laser guns really exist?

At present no. But, in theory, it should be possible to create energy weapons like laser guns, in the future.

But, if ever achieved, they might be a little anti-climactic compared to what we have come to understand as laser weapons. 

Is an ion cannon possible?

Ion cannons are another common future-tech that often appears in sci-fi films and books. But are they possible in reality?

An ion cannon is essentially a form of particle cannon. Its "projectiles" are ionized particles that would, in theory, cause damage to electronic devices, vehicles and other electronic systems that could potentially disable them.

While true ion cannons are still in the realm of science fantasy, there are some ostensibly similar devices that do exist today.

Called "Negative Ion Generators", these devices at a sufficient size and capacity could, in theory, interfere with the electronics of a distant target. But it must be stressed that these devices are mainly used as air ionizers and are a long way off being weaponized to this degree (if ever possible).

Are lightsabers possible?

Believe it or not, but there are some scientists who believe that the iconic weapon of the Jedi and Sith might actually be possible. In theory at least.

"It's possible to make a lightsaber, a physicist explains...

Muller backs his claim by pointing out that small accelerators that take electrons to almost the speed of light (99.999% of the speed of light, to be exact) already exist." - Business Insider.

Are there any sci-fi weapons that actually exist?

So, without further ado, here are some real-life weapons that wouldn't look out of place in a sci-fi novel or film. Trust us when we say this list is far from exhaustive and is in no particular order.

1. Forcefields could soon be a thing

real sci-fi weapons forcefield
Source: Ivo van der Ent/Flickr

Forcefields tend to be "par for the course" when it comes to sci-fi. And, believe it or not, some military research is being conducted to actually make them a reality.

Aerospace giant Boeing has previously received a patent for just such a thing. It is plasma-based and, in theory, could repel or absorb shockwaves from explosives. 

While in its infancy, the tech uses electricity, lasers and microwave radiation to rapidly superheat an area in front of the shockwave. This should, in theory at least, create an interface field of plasma that absorbs kinetic energy and keeps the intended target safe and sound. 

2. Cyborg insects actually exist

sci-fi weapons robo bugs
Source: Sarah Parker/Flickr

The use of cyborgs or technologically-enhanced animals is another common theme in sci-fi. As it turns out we are making tentative steps to bringing this into reality.

Animals have been used on the battlefield for millennia, and augmenting them with the latest technology was only ever an inevitability. A recent project from DARPA has begun to research weaponizing insects.

Called HI-MEMS (Hybrid Insect Micro-Electrical-Mechanical System) this research sounds like something right out of the page of a sci-fi novel. Insects are taken when they are pupae and have electrical circuits implanted into their bodies. 

Once they've fully formed as adults, the implants allow the bugs to be remotely controlled. This could have important applications for surveillance on the battlefield.

3. Drones are getting human-brain-like chips

sci-fi weapons drones
Source: Christopher Michel/Flickr

Drones are revolutionizing the world in many ways. But one of their most important applications is on the battlefield. 

At present these drones require human remote operators to function, but new research from DARPA could change that forever. They have recently conducted an experiment with "neuromorphic" chip equipped drones.

These chips mimic the human brain allowing drones to act mostly-independently. Using these chips, the drones were able to "learn on the fly" and navigate an area on their own.

This was only a proof of concept, but it could be a vision of the future. 

4. Powered exoskeletons are already a thing

Exoskeletons are another common feature of sci-fi novels and films. Visions of power-armored warriors doing battle might not be a thing of fantasy for much longer. 

Many companies are currently developing power-exoskeletons with military applications around the globe. One example comes from Lockheed Martin. 

Called the Human Universal Load Carrier project, they are developing a mechanized exoskeleton for soldiers. The suits are able to carry up to 200 pounds (90 kgs) of gear and extend the wearer's stamina considerably. 

It is surely only a matter of time before such suits also become weaponized. 

5. Guided bullets are almost here

The bullet has changed very little over several centuries, but that could all be about to change. Once again our friends at DARPA are working on completely revamping the way bullets work on the battlefield.

DARPA's Exacto program is developing a special .50 caliber shell that incorporates a tiny computer guidance system. This system will, it is hoped, be able to manipulate tiny fins on the bullet's surface to make course corrections in flight.

This will enable, in theory, the bullet to course-correct to overcome environmental conditions or even track moving targets. If successful this could revolutionize warfare forever. 

6. Have you heard about the "Thunder Generator"


The Israeli army has been using a sci-fi-like non-lethal weapon called a "Thunder Generator" for many decades.  It is primarily designed for crowd control and was developed from tech that was originally used to scare birds away from fields. 

The device uses detonation technology to funnel an explosion into a huge, resonant barrel. This then releases a high-velocity shockwave in a particular direction. This weapon's shockwaves are so powerful they are able to knock back and temporarily deafen targets up to 100 feet (30 meters) away. 

At extremely close range, however, the weapon could cause excruciating pain and possible death. 

7. "Aliens" like "Smartguns" could soon be a thing

And finally, we could be getting a step closer to the iconic "Smartguns" from the "Alien" franchise. An American company called TrackingPoint has developed a rifle that comes with precision-guided technology. 

This tech is able to calculate the range to target and optimizes the gun accordingly on behalf of the user. 

"The futuristic weapon features a stainless steel Stiller action and 22" Shilen barrel. It also has an optic that tracks targets, an onboard weather station, an integrated laser ranger finding that automatically updates the ballistics data, and a 1400 yard lock range.

This weapon is simplistic and reliable, paired with the patented lock-and-load precision which makes this the most innovative bolt-action hunting rifle on the market." - vocal.media.com

Add Interesting Engineering to your Google News feed.
Add Interesting Engineering to your Google News feed.
message circleSHOW COMMENT (1)chevron
Job Board