Sniper localization

Determining the trajectory of a supersonic projectile and firing position of the trajectory

Military Technology Sensors

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A scientist at the Army Research Laboratory has recently invented a sniper locating system. The patented technology is available via patent license agreement to companies that would make, use, or sell it commercially.

There are several known systems to determine the general location of the sniper and trajectory of supersonic projectiles, such as bullets and artillery shells, by measuring parameters associated with the shockwave generated by a projectile. Current systems, however, generally require a distributed array of acoustic sensors to detect the arrival times, amplitudes and frequency characteristics of a projectile’s shockwave and the muzzle blast from a firearm. In addition, such systems typically require real-time operating systems (UNIX, LINUX, etc.) and an elaborate time synchronization mechanism so that all the deployed sensors have a common time reference to determine the exact time of arrival for both shockwave and the muzzle blast.

The ARL sniper localization system uses distributed single microphone sensors or handheld computing devices using only time differences of arrival (TDOA) between the shockwave and muzzle blast at each sensor. Of note, this sniper location system does not require time synchronization across multiple sensors. The TDOA information for the shockwave can be used to determine the projectile’s trajectory: azimuth, elevation, and intercept with an arbitrary plane in the system coordinate frame. With additional information from the muzzle blast, an accurate location of the origin of the projectile and a line of bearing to the origin of the projectile can be determined. Even when the muzzle blast is masked, shadowed, silenced or otherwise distorted, at least the bullet trajectory can be estimated from the shockwave alone.

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