Is this the beginning of practical laser warfare?

Robots are certainly the wave of the future, as far as replacing soldiers in dangerous situations goes, but what weapons might future soldiers, or robot soldiers use? Lockheed Martin is betting on one thing (that we're massively in favor of): lasers, and they're successfully tested and demonstrated a large high-powered laser that could be used for future combat.

Lockheed’s "weapons grade" laser is obviously much different from the standard laser we’re familiar with. It’s a 30-kilowatt laser that combines many small spectral laser beams, each with its own wavelength, into one single "near-perfect" beam. It’s also the most powerful laser of its kind. Even better? It only utilizes about half the energy of standard lasers, another way of saying that it's twice as efficient. The idea is to place such a laser on aircraft, ships, and other military vehicles, and combining spectral beams results in a laser that travels farther than we've previously seen without nearly as much sensitivity to the atmosphere. With Lockheed expected to next create a 100-kilowatt version of this laser, we can expect a weapon that is even better.

This isn't the first time we've seen a military-grade laser, but new technology makes Lockheed’s laser more efficient, smaller and less power-hungry. Lockheed began working with combining spectral beams and fiber optics several years ago and this latest demonstration shows the results of their efforts. Not only can we expect to see these large laser cannons on future battlefields, but this new technology will also allow for smaller weapons, like laser rifles.

Via io9

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