Sol Bianca: The Legacy – Take on Gaze-Directed Neural-controlled Weaponry
The F-310 Mega-Arms is not a real weapon of course, but the ideals it embodies is a long-held dream of military minds around the world, and something that is being strived for, with a lot of DARPA's work in eye-tracking and brain-machine interfaces leading up to something very much along the same lines as this weapon. Nothing it does, is theoretically impossible, and quite a bit of the episode is spent explaining how it works.
In the episode, it is needed because terrorists have claimed the pirate ship Sol Bianca for themselves, and all but one member of the crew are being held hostage. The remaining member needs something capable of taking the ship back when she is severely out manned and out gunned, and finds this in a very reputable black market weapons merchant's office. The rapidly increased reaction speed it offers, as well as the special features, more than make up for the difference in relative numbers and firepower. Especially in the hands of a trained soldier.
It is a direct neural interface weapon, tapping into the user's thoughts and intentions. By reading the mind of the soldier wearing it - its a big gun - the reflexes of the peripheral nervous system are effectively bypassed and the gun fires long before the finger pulls the trigger. It is pretty much instantaneous when the decision to fire has been made.
Overall, there is nothing about this weapon which is in concept at least, beyond our ability to develop for real. Most of the processing power is in the backpack, along with the power supply system and (quite possibly) the bullets themselves. The gun section is quite light, as it would have to be to be toted around all day, although the sheer mass of it does require that the user adopt a new way of standing and moving in general, so that their centre of balance is not thrown off too much.
A nice feature not covered directly is the helmet, although we do see it in action later in the episode and it is quite easy to infer from that, what is going on. If we look at the initial image again:
We can see there are multiple caneras attached to the unit. Normally, vision is carried out through the front camera, which records events in front of the user, overlays virtual data, and then relays it to the monitors on the inside of the 'sunglasses'. Those are not actually see through, simply holding frames for the display screens of whichever type they may be. The other four cameras scattered around, handle peripheral vision, and their output is added to the first, so the user retains a normal surround vision. Unlike with natural vision however, since it is all camera-based, if they for example focus on their left side peripheral vision, they can see it in just as much clarity as they could straight ahead, without actually turning their head - the system can compensate and move the display, by tracking pupil movement or optic muscles. We have possessed such technology for over two decades.
So, if there is a threat from above, look up an the two cameras mounted on top of your helmet give a better view than your eyes naturally would. The system is tracking your eye and head movement, the motors working with your arm to guide the gun... and to a trained operator thay can be pointing the gun exactly at the assailant coming at them from above, know the bullet will hit, and fire off a short burst with their mind.
As to the mind-controlled aspect. That is the key part of the interface, and is the obvious reason for the sheer size of that helmet. It is a non-invasive system, as demonstrated by the fact the helmet can be put on and taken off like a bike helmet. So that suggests a 3D EEG system, similar to what we have available today, but a little more precise. It is unlikely to be detecting the complex thought of 'fire a bullet now', but much more likely looking into the hindbrain, and tracking the neurons tied to aggression. When the instinct to 'kill' surfaces, the gun fires at whatever it is aimed at. It is a simple and elegant solution that would by far have the fastest response time. Since you never point a loaded weapon at anything you wish to keep, the moral aspect of the act takes care of itself.
Changing ammo types is a bit more tricky, and logically, this would have to be a higher thought process, in which the gun is trained or calibrated to the particular neural pathways of a given user. This is again, what happens with modern neural implants - the implant has to learn to recognise the thoughts of the user rather than the other way around. What this involves, is the user thinking of a concept which the gun learns to read as say 'short burst fire', by receiving that input when it is told it will receive the command for short burst fire mode, and through pattern matching and repeated exposure, learns to recognise subtle variations of that thought as the same thing.
When in other ficticious uses of brain-machine interfaces, the interface has to be thought at in the correct language, that is also what is going on. Thoughts in different languages have slightly different concepts to mean similar things, and since it is the concept that is tracked, not the language, the thought has to be expressed in the right context in order to be recognised. Hence something thought in English concepts might not necessarily be the same thought pattern when considered in Russian (as in the film Firefox).
The suit is also very likely to be transmitting continuous position data to the gun's control system. There will be at least one joint sensor at the knee, elbow, hips, down the back, etc to monitor the relative position of the user's joints in a system such as this one. As stressed earlier, every unit talks to the others. If the user is crouched, they can take more oomph from the gun firing, than they can if they are standing normally. This would be an invaluable datastream to a smart gun, to tell when the user's body position is ideal for more power in a shot, and when it is less than ideal. It could warn them to brace more before firing one of the RPGs for example. Additionally,. it helps in calculating the gun's own relative height in relation to the target. Something essential for gravity calculations, as it fires with greater or lesser force according to the range the target is from the gun itself. Most likely using a linear induction accelerator to push the bullets out of the front end at greater than normal speed.
There is one element of the weapon shown later in the episode that really is pure science fiction. It is a cloaking system that allegedly renders the user invisible to the entire electromagnetic spectrum for 'stealth runs'. If it is possible, modern physics, even theoretical physics, has no idea how such a thing might be achieved. So, we will ignore this one 'feature' as creative writing and nothing more.
Overall, it is a big, powerful, and scarilly efficient gun, hooked directly into the user's brain and analysing her movements for the most effective shot. It uses a suit which would have to be adjusted for each user, but is in separate secions which communicate wirelessly via a body-area network and a unique protocol. There is some danger of an external forcehacking into the system because of this weakness, but by keeping the communication signal to a low power, few inches transmission range, and using a bespoke protocol this danger can be minimised. There is nothing to stop the user from requesting a new, dynamically generated wireless protocol be used by the gun, each time it is picked up. This would all but eliminate the possibility of hacking. After all, its not as if its ever going to communicate with other systems - except the person wearing it.
What is perhaps scariest about this weapon, is there is literally nothing about it that we could not construct using a mixture of commercial off the shelf, and in-laboratory technology available right now. Sure it might not be as fast or as accurate using modern interface technology, but we could certainly build it, and have it work. In time, perhaps as little time as another decade, we will have reached the point where we can build it as pictured here, and be just as accurate and just as deadly - and trump every 'itchy trigger finger' weapon on the market today.
The Firefox Ficticious Neural-Controlled Fighter Plane
Sol Bianca: The Legacy was a 1999 release by Geneon Universal Entertainment. English dub versions are available, however the series is not currently in production. At time of writing, Amazon.com still had six used copies.