Metravib, the defense wing of the European based ACOEM Group was recently in the news for displaying a Picatinny rail mounted variant of their acoustic gunshot detector and locator. The company must be revamping their publicity efforts because the device was displayed publicly in a similar configuration as early as 2012 in this video titled in Japanese, and then again in 2014 with this promotional published by TAL Secure Systems (which actually originates in 2012 with this promotion published by Army Recognition).
Metravib’s system is called PEARL for Soldier, differing from the company’s other products such as “PILAR for Vehicles“, “PILAR for Sensitive Sites“, or even “PILAR for Helicopters“. All the aforementioned systems appear to use the same technology that the company has been developing for what appears to be at least a decade. Each iteration is adapting the system to work in a different environment and delivery system. It uses the acoustic signature of incoming fire to source the general direction of the small arms fire so users can get orientated in the correct direction. On the vehicle-mounted versions, it is designed to plug into a computer screen that gives users the information they need. It is very similar to technology used with the CROW System that the U.S. Army has been using quite successfully for a number of years to date.
But with the small arms mounted variants, it is designed to interface with a standard M1913 Picatinny rail, preferably on one of the side rails or on top of an optic. In addition there is an option for “coupling” to “day/night weapon sights multifunction thermal goggles, handheld ballistic calculator…“. This would allow a user to see where the direction of the incoming fire is, while peering through their optics. Although it isn’t clear what exact optic this is capable, especially seeing that the majority of combat optics on the market don’t have any sort of digital “plug in” that this could be affixed to. There is also a feature that allows for the device to not pick up outgoing small arms fire within a certain vicinity (such as friendly forces firing back).
Metravib claims that the device has seen service with elements of the French Armed Forces, UN Peace Keeping missions, and other customers. It would appear that the device (which must be extremely pricey) actually does work as intended. What it intends to solve is a centuries-old predicament of infantrymen screaming to one another “Where are they shooting at us from!” while taking accurate fire.
I think the concept and the mechanism is certainly there, but the company could have done a better job than sticking a device weighing several pounds on the side rail of a rifle or light machine gun. Small arms have enough optics, ATPIALs, grips, and clip-on night vision on them that adding another piece of rail mounted equipment that is as bulbous and hindering as this, is too much. In addition it ties the device to a piece of gear instead of allowing it to be a squad or platoon asset such as a radio or mine detector. If Metravib could get this to be a pouch or pack mounted accessory, with some sort of wrist-mounted directional device (or a HUD display in a soldier’s eye protection, hint, hint), then I think this coud be a real asset to any dismounted infantry platoon today. Such as this system that for unexplained reasons appears to have not gone anywhere in development…