IBM Pulls Patent for Bullet Dodging Armor

By James Anderson •  Updated: 02/18/09 •  2 min read

So much for dodging bullets, IBM has withdrawn its patent for the “bionic armor” that we all hoped would one day allow us to dodge bullets.

The patent was described as a

“method of protecting a target from a projectile propelled from a firearm comprises detecting an approaching projectile, continuously monitoring the projectile and transmitting an actual position of the projectile to a controller, computing an estimated projectile trajectory based upon the actual position of the projectile, determining an actual position of a target with a plurality of position sensors and a plurality of attitude sensors, determining whether the estimated projectile trajectory coincides with the actual position of the target, and triggering a plurality of muscle stimulators operably coupled to the controller and to the target when the estimated projectile trajectory coincides with the actual position of the target, wherein the muscle stimulators stimulate the target to move in a predefined manner, and wherein the target moves by an amount sufficient to avoid any contact with the approaching projectile. The projectile may be detected in the detecting step by emitting an electromagnetic wave from a projectile detector and receiving the electromagnetic wave after the electromagnetic wave has been reflected back toward the projectile detector by the projectile.”

Shear Thickening Fluid

Perhaps soldiers will have to wait for the bullet-dodging armor, and opt for the technology that we have today – liquid body armor. MIT and the US army have been testing a new fluid technology called, Shear Thickening Fluid or STF, which when vibrated causes overall stiffness and boosts the protective properties of the fluid. STF can be placed in helmets, vests, clothing to make armor soft and easy to remove.

The fluid, called colloid, is made of tiny particles which are suspended in a liquid. They float around without clumping together and are always “active” to be “reactive”. As an outside force impacts, the energy overwhelms the particles causing them to stick together into masses called, hydroclusters. As the energy dissipates, the particles begin to break apart and float freely again causing the solid substance to become liquidated again.

Of course, don’t count on STF armor to protect you from a slow knife or blade incision. In knife tests, it was found that it could penetrate the armor when piercing at very slow speeds.

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