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Fire the US Army's next-gen laser cannon with an Xbox controller

"... something he knows how to use instinctively."

The US Army is working on a next-gen laser cannon which operators fire with an Xbox controller.

The Boeing-built High Energy Laser Mobile Demonstrator (HEL MD) is, essentially, a powerful laser mounted on top of a truck.

It uses a 10-kilowatt laser to disable or destroy targets (the final product will use a much more powerful laser), powered by lithium ion batteries. As long as the battery is charged, the laser can fire.

It's designed to require just two people to operate: one person to drive, and one person to point the laser and shoot. The person in charge of firing the laser uses just a laptop and an Xbox controller to aim the laser at a target and hold the beam on it until the heat generated disables it.

"We want to be able to run it single guy, from a single laptop with an Xbox controller," Kurt Warden, software development lead at Boeing's Directed Energy Systems division, says in the promotional video, below.

"Something that he doesn't have to go to school learn for years and years, but something he knows how to use instinctively."

HEL MD is still a work in progress, and it's a number of years away from being deployed on the battlefield, but it was successfully used to destroy UAV drones and 60mm mortars out of the sky over Florida earlier this year, Wired reports.

This isn't the first time the US Army has appropriated Xbox tech with its arsenal.

Back in 2007 US Army soldiers were spotted controlling small unmanned ground vehicles with an Xbox 360 pad.

And a 2007 recruitment ad for the British army featured a soldier explaining UAV use while using an Xbox 360 controller to fly a drone over a troop of patrolling soldiers.

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