UK scientists and engineers are developing a new laser cannon-based defence system which can be mounted on ships and boats to help fight pirates from boarding the vessels.

The new non-lethal weapon, developed by BAE Systems, uses lasers to disable pirates by dazzling them as they approach a ship and to move targets more than a mile away, according to the Telegraph.

The device can work at day and night and effectively hides the vessel by creating a bright green glare from the laser, leaving the pirates unable to aim their weapons accurately.

BAE Systems Advanced Technology Centre spokesman Roy Clarke said the laser would be used as a dummy sun to hide the vessel behind.

“As you go up in power with a laser, you get to a point looking at it creates a big bright light that dominates everything in your field of view,” he added.

A non-lethal military-grade laser known as SeaLase, built by finish company Lasersec systems, is capable of blinding attackers at up to 4km away and has been available to yacht owners as well as for commercial and naval applications since 2009.

Interest in non-lethal laser technology such as the Sealase from the private and commercial shipping industry has become especially strong of late as the deterrent does not conflict with international laws regarding the use of force and the carrying of lethal weapons onboard ships.