Finally! Laser weapons will soon have Star Wars sound effects

3 Jun 2015

Since lasers were first introduced into actual modern combat vehicles, man has dreamt of them making ‘pew pew’ noises like in science-fiction films. Well now, that dream is actually within our grasp.

In the past year, the US military has shown that its target of always being the most advanced military in terms of technology means it has had to develop laser weapons.

In March, Lockheed Martin showed off its fibre-optic laser cannon dubbed the Advanced Test High Energy Asset (ATHENA), which is capable of blowing a large hole in a pick-up truck more than 1.5km away.

Meanwhile, the US Navy’s USS Ponce battleship was equipped with the Laser Weapon System (LaWS) that could blow up small dinghies, drones and other small craft with the flick of a switch.

But for all their cool scientific properties, the one thing laser weapons lacked for the science-fiction junkies is the familiar ‘pew pew’ as seen in films like Star Wars, which was frankly just there to make them cool.

Lockheed Martin laser

The smouldering hole following the successful testing of the ATHENA laser. Image via Lockheed Martin

Well now, we need wait no more, as according to the developers of Boeing’s High Energy Laser Mobile Demonstrator (HEL MD) who spoke to Nature (and  which was spotted by PopSci), the addition of sound is also pretty important for informing its operators how it’s actually doing.

Working in autonomous mode, the HEL MD fired off beams at multiple targets, often without its operators knowing where it had shot at as there was  no sound when it was fired.

“The engagements happen quickly, and unless you’re staring at a screen 24–7 you’ll never see them,” said Boeing’s electrophysics engineer, Stephanie Blount. “So we’ve built sound in for whenever we fire the laser. We plan on taking advantage of lots of Star Trek and Star Wars sound bites.”

Retro laser gun image via Shutterstock

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic