Graham Hawkes is best known for his radical winged submarines that “fly” under the sea like spiraling fighter jets. But the British-born engineer is also the inventor of the military’s first robotic machine gun. He hit upon the idea after reading about a disastrous police shootout in Philadelphia in 1985. Here’s what Hawkes, 57, had to say about how he brought it to life.
PS: You developed the technology without government funding?
GH: When you have a radical idea, people´s brains don´t engage unless you actually make the thing. So I built it with my own money. I designed the system in 3D-CAD and had some local machine shops fabricate the parts-without letting them know what I was doing.
PS: How did it go?
GH: The prototype weighed 27 pounds and shot a rifle more accurately than a human could. Within three minutes, my 80-year-old father-in-law was as deadly as a 30-year-old army captain.
PS: Wow, that´s pretty impressive.
GH: It´s perfect for urban warfare. Even in the heart of a battle, you can shoot from a safe place, like a sniper. SWORDS is just one of many platforms.
PS: Any police interest?
GH: The military was the first to buy the system, so right now we´re focused on that. But I think this is the future in law enforcement. A very high percentage of police shootings are hair-trigger situations. With this equipment, the forces of good have time to think. The rules of engagement change.
PS: Any civilian uses?
GH: Absolutely none. It´s a weapon.