The US Army Has a New Laser Cannon, And It Works With an Xbox Controller

High Energy Laser Mobile Demonstrator can take down mortars and UAVs with incredible precision and force, Boeing says.

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The HEL MD during a recent test at the Eglin Air Force base in Floriday
The HEL MD during a recent test at the Eglin Air Force base in Floriday

The United States Army is working with Boeing's defense and security division on a new directed-energy weapon controlled in part by an Xbox gamepad. The High Energy Laser Mobile Demonstrator (HEL MD) is essentially a photon cannon attached to a big truck. One person drives, and the other uses a laptop and Xbox 360 controller to lock onto the target and take it out.

"We want to be able to run it [using a] single guy, from a single laptop, with an Xbox controller," Boeing software development lead, Kurt Warden, says in this promotional video (via Wired). "Something that he doesn't have to go to school to learn for years and years, but something he knows how to use instinctively."

The current version of the HEL MD uses a 10-kilowatt energy laser installed on a tactical military vehicle. At that kilowatt level, the HEL MD is able to take out mortars and missiles, but Boeing says the next step is to install a "tactically significant" 50- or 60-kilowatt laser that can more reliably fire, hit, and immobilize missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles.

Boeing recently tested the HEL MD in windy, raining, and foggy weather conditions (in Florida, of course), and the laser weapon was successful in targeting a variety of targets, the company said.

The HEL MD sounds like something out of Activision's upcoming shooter, Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, which also features directed-energy weapons. Activision says all of the game's future-focused weapons and vehicles are grounded in reality; Boeing and the US Army are proving the publisher's point with the HEL MD.

Eddie Makuch is a news editor at GameSpot, and you can follow him on Twitter @EddieMakuch

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