June 11th, 2010

New Scope Automatically Matches Magnification to Target Range

Imagine a riflescope that could sense target distance and shift from wide field-of-view/low magnification for closer shots to higher magnification for longer-range shots. Just think of the benefits for a hunter. He could just place his cross-hairs on a buck and the scope would automatically zoom to the optimal magnification. Does this sound like science fiction?

Darpa Lockheed DInGo projectWell the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is betting millions of tax dollars that an auto-adjusting rifle scope will soon be science FACT. DARPA recently awarded Lockheed Martin a $3.93 contract to develop a “next generation” Dynamic Image Gunsight Optic, aka DInGO. The DInGO scope automatically calculates the range with a low power laser rangefinder, digitally zooms in on it and accounts for environmental conditions such as wind using sensors built into the scope. It then projects the bullet’s point-of-impact calculated from the embedded ballistics computer. DInGO is based on Lockheed Martin’s One Shot Advanced Sighting System, which utilizes similar technology to automatically transmit crosswind information to a sniper’s scope and move the crosshairs to show the corrected point of aim.

“Current scopes are optimized for a single target range, impacting soldiers’ effectiveness and survivability when engaging targets at different distances,” said Dan Schultz, vice president and general manager of Lockheed Martin’s Mission Systems & Sensors Ship & Aviation Systems business. “DInGO will solve this problem, significantly increasing soldiers’ ability to rapidly reconfigure optics for use from short to long ranges and improving marksmanship capabilities for all soldiers.”

While DInGo scope technology will first be implemented for the military on M-4 and M-16 rifles, eventually this automatic ranging/zooming system could be adapted to hunting rifles. Such a system would be great for game hunters. When the prey appears at close range, the scope would provide a relatively low magnification level for enhanced field of view. If the animal was much farther away, the scope would autmatically increase magnification to allow more precise aiming. Hopefully this will be one example of military technology “trickling down” to the general public for sporting use.

Other Scopes with Built-In Laser Rangefinders
Both Burris and Zeiss currently offer hunting scopes with integrated laser-rangefinders that calculate holdover, based on target distance. The Burris Eliminator even projects the calculated aiming (hold) point as a red dot on the vertical crosshair. Shown below is the view through the lens of the Burris Eliminator scope, with the red dot showing holding point. Just place the red dot on the center of the target and pull the trigger. However, neither the Burris nor Zeiss rangefinding scopes automatically adjust magnification/field of view. Zooming in or out must still be done manually. That’s where the DInGO system offers something radically new.

Burris Eliminator Scope

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