Star Wars Lasers Will Soon be a Reality (Sort Of)

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Imagine if real-life laser weapons were like the ones in the movies? Sure, companies have been making real-life laser cannons for years. Sure, they’re some serious stuff—serious like shoot a drone down mid-flight. But wouldn’t it be cool if they shot neon beams of death that go PEW PEW like the ones in Star Wars?

Lucky for you, Boeing, the world’s largest aerospace company, is making all your sci-fi dreams come true.

A Boeing rep recently told Nature the company plans to add laser sound effects to its High Energy Laser Mobile Demonstrator (HEL MD), a prototype developed for the US Army by aerospace. But even better—it’ll make the same noise as Han Solo’s blaster.

Boeing’s HEL MD automatically shoots lasers at flying targets, like drones or mortar rounds.  But these lasers are silent and invisible, unlike its movie counterparts, which race across the screen in red and green bursts.

Despite these lasers being way less cool than the lasers from Star Wars (after all, what fun would it be to watch a movie where all of the guns fire invisible, silent projectiles), the fact that they’re silent can pose a serious threat to operators. No noise—or beaming bright lights—means the humans driving the truck sometimes don’t notice when it’s done firing, or for that matter, when it even begins firing.

“The engagements happen quickly, and unless you’re staring at a screen 24–7 you’ll never see them,” Boeing electrophysics engineer Stephanie Blount tells Nature. “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.”

Naturally, Star Wars (ok, you too, Star Trek) saves the galaxy. Thanks to epic sounds of imaginary battle, shooters may notice when their death rays melt something out of existence. Of course, there’s always a downside: What if Han Solo has a little too much fun hearing his laser fire? Until next episode…

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