Paris: European aerospace group EADS has unveiled technology that would spot snipers before they squeeze the trigger and cause fatalities. Working with laser surveillance technology, the system seeks out a sniper by bouncing light off his telescopic sight.
"It is the same principle as 'cat's eyes' in the middle of the road," said Peter Talbot-Jones, research team leader at EADS Innovation Works at Newport in Wales, UK.
'Cat's eyes' behave like the retina of a cat by reflecting light from a car's headlamps to illuminate lines on the road.
The ELLIPSE unit sweeps a protected zone with laser beams which is reflected back off any lens they hit. A computer system then analyzes any light that is reflected back to the unit to determine if it was a sniper scope, a camera lens, or some other similar object.
"We aim to use a sniper's technology against him," said Talbot-Jones, who served with British forces in Afghanistan. Soviet-era Dragunov sniper rifles are readily available in this hostile territory.
European and US companies are speeding-up research into anti-sniper defences in response to battle situations faced in Afghanistan and Iraq. Most systems underdevelopment use acoustic or thermal sensors, however, and wait for the first shot to be fired.
The system makes use of "triangulation," a technique used in GPS satellite navigation.
EADS stumbled on its optical technique through anti-missile research and now hopes to deploy the technology in time for London's 2012 Olympics as a way of providing security for dignitaries.