Boeing is drawing inspiration from science fiction for its newest patent. The design named “Method and system for shockwave attenuation via electromagnetic arc” will use energy to deflect potential damage, similar to the energy shields seen in Star Wars and Star Trek.
In Star Wars, the force fields concentrate energy around an object and are typically projected from a single source. The type of field that will be utilized by Boeing will not be that advanced, but it will still have plenty of military benefits.
According to CNET, the system will not prevent direct impact from shells or shrapnel, but will protect a target from shockwaves caused by nearby impact. The components needed for the shockwave attenuation system are a sensor capable of detecting a shockwave-generating explosion and an arc generator that receives the signal from the sensor to ionize a small region. A plasma field will be produced using lasers, electricity and microwaves between the target and the explosion.
“Such embodiments as described above may reduce the energy density of the shockwave by creating a second medium in the path of the advancing shockwave that reflects, refracts, absorbs and deflects at least a portion of the shockwave,” the patent reads.
An article on Geek.com states the system could be easily attached to permanent structures as well as military vehicles on the ground, in the water, and in the air. The extra protection the fields will create will help prevent traumatic brain injury, one of the signature injuries of troops wounded in Afghanistan and Iraq according to report from the Department of Defense.
A report from DVBIC shows that the number of new medical diagnoses of military personnel who suffer from TBI increase from 2000 to 2012. As of 2014, the current number of new medical diagnoses of TBI total of 320,344. Although numbers have begun to decrease, the new system can help protect soldiers from the shockwaves that cause TBI, lowering the numbers further.
The system can also help troops identify where they are being attacked from. The patent reads the system has the capabilities of, “determining a direction and distance of the shockwave relative to a defended target and calculating a firing plan.”
Certain restraints prevent the shield from completely covering a target and having it stay in place for any period of time.