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The bullet that just cannot miss

US scientists have invented a bullet that steers itself like a miniature guided missile and can hit a target more than a mile away.

It bullet twists and turns to guide itself toward a laser-directed point, making up to thirty corrections per second while in the air.

Sandia National Laboratories spokesman Jim Jones said he thinks the .50-calibre bullets would work well with military machine guns, so soldiers could hit their mark faster and with precision.

"We've tested gunpowders to see if we can get muzzle velocity for military interest," he said.

Testing has shown the bullet can reach speeds of 2,400 feet per second. Researchers said they were confident the bullet could reach standard military speeds using customised gunpowder.

Computer simulations showed an unguided bullet under real-world conditions could miss a target more than a half-mile away. But according to the patent, a guided bullet would get within eight inches.

Sandia said the design for the bullet includes an optical sensor in the nose to detect a laser beam on a target. The sensor sends information to guidance and control electronics that command electromagnetic actuators. These actuators steer tiny fins that guide the bullet to the target.

The lab is seeking a private company partner to complete testing of the prototype and bring a guided bullet to the market. Research and development grants have taken the project this far.

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