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The Military Idle Hardware Technology

Libyan Rebels Weaponize Power Wheels Toys 310

Posted by samzenpus
from the play-time-is-over dept.
Danny Rathjens pointed out a story about the DIY weapons created by Libyan rebels. One of the more interesting is a machine gun drone created from a Power Wheels-style ATV. Rebels outfit the toys with a small cannon and attach controls via long wire. A solider can hide while he uses a small television and simple controls to move the vehicle and fire the gun. A similar system is also outfitted to a toy truck with a machine gun on top.

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Libyan Rebels Weaponize Power Wheels Toys

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  • Lock Tony Stark in a cave with nothing more than a forge and some scrap iron and he'll invent a power armor combat suit with freakin' lasers.

    Still, kinda cool in a low-rent A-Team way.

  • by querist (97166) on Wednesday June 15, 2011 @11:41AM (#36451300) Homepage
    Desperation is the true mother of invention. These Lybian rebels are determined, and it's impressive what people can do when faced with something that important to them but a limited budget.
    • by RazzleFrog (537054) on Wednesday June 15, 2011 @11:44AM (#36451354)

      It's great to see. I really hope that when they succeed they turn this creative energy into building a democratic, secular, and scientific society that can be a benchmark for the rest of North Egypt and the Middle East to emulate.

      I know - I'm a dreamer.

      • by blair1q (305137)

        North Egypt?

        Anyway, this is cute stuff, but it's horribly low-volume and inefficient with the manpower they have. And that thing is vulnerable to a quick kid with a hammer, or a savvy sapper with a hand-grenade and a berm to hide behind.

        They should be spending their time doing the diplomatic legwork to get someone to ship them a few hundred tanks, helicopters, and predator drones.

        Because otherwise they're not fighting a war, they're putting on a show.

      • by scribblej (195445)

        Hey, maybe you should hope the USA becomes a country like you just described, first, instead of starting wars all around the globe while praising Jesus.

    • by rwven (663186)

      True that. I was truly impressed by not only the engineering skills and resourcefulness of those people, but also their attitude toward the "task" at hand.

    • it's impressive what people can do ...with a limited budget.

      When's the CIA is behind you, budget is not really an issue.

      • by JWSmythe (446288)

        You know, that's one of the things I was pondering as I watched that.

        Sure, they had some neat toys used innovatively. They also had heavier artillery than most Americans will ever get our hands on. Fully automatic weapons? Chain guns? Crates full of ammo? Missiles?

        Here in America, the US Constitution was written to ensure that the people would run the nation, and that we would never be oppressed by our own government. In the days of muskets and cutlasses t

        • by Talderas (1212466)

          But if there is a civil insurrection, those involved would be quickly annihilated with superior firepower.

          True. The civilian firepower cannot compete with the US military. It is, however, also dependent on the military brass agreeing with attacking the citizens of the nation they are sworn to protect.

        • by hairyfeet (841228)

          Never hear of the National Guard? They got a shitload of really nice big guns in nearly every little town in the south. How do you think all those survivalists get their hands on C4 and grenades? National Guard my friend, along with the biker gangs that will happily have anything you want smuggled from down south for the right price.

          Hell i'll never forget a cop friend of mine LOLing about pulling over some members of the Folks street gang and they had an RPG which these braintrusts were planning on doing

          • by rahvin112 (446269)

            Nobody is going to be handing out weapons. Even if it went that far the Feds would do what the Brits did in the revolutionary war and move in and seize the weapons depots before it reached the point.

            But my main point is the millitary wouldn't obey a mission to attack US civilians. Why do you think Vietnam ended, because of protests? No the Vietnam war ended because the millitary refused to fight. The personal charged with identifying targets started sending in reports that no targets were found. Ground and

  • by mseeger (40923) on Wednesday June 15, 2011 @11:44AM (#36451358)

    What comes next? Weapon grade Lego?

    • However I have it on good authority that Gaddafi is lining up crack troops of 5 year olds to disable then break the enemy weapons within minutes by being sick all over them then trying to feed them to an angry cat.

    • by Dracos (107777)

      All Power Wheels and radio-controlled toy vehicles will now be subject to export restrictions.

      • by querist (97166)
        You are so close... I won a decent (about $200 - six channel radio, etc.) RC helicopter at a conference, and I left it in the box since there was no point in taking it out before I flew back to my house. Wrong answer. The TSA folks at the St. Louis airport required me to take it out of the box and show them every piece in the box. Apparently, there is some sort of thing with bringing flying RC things onto an airplane. Granted, I'm 45 and I normally don't travel with RC toys, so I am not entirely sure if i
    • by Kozz (7764) on Wednesday June 15, 2011 @12:11PM (#36451776)

      What comes next? Weapon grade Lego?

      Ever step barefoot on a 1x1 in the middle of the night on your way to the bathroom?

    • Ever played with those Lego Mindstorms robotics kits? With a little creativity and hacking of the appropriate hardware you can end up with weapons grade Legos pretty quickly. Never underestimate the power of a creatively designed controller system.
    • Have your two year old throw it at you. It's ALREADY weapon grade.
  • The new Taliban? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Viol8 (599362) on Wednesday June 15, 2011 @11:45AM (#36451372)

    Do we know anything about these rebels other than they don't like Gaddafi? How do we know we're not helping an Al Queada style organisation get into power? I have a bad feeling about this.

    • by vlm (69642)

      Do we know anything about these rebels other than they don't like Gaddafi? How do we know we're not helping an Al Queada style organisation get into power? I have a bad feeling about this.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Transitional_Council#Aims_and_objectives_of_the_national_council [wikipedia.org]

      They certainly know how to write a press release that will appeal to their western helpers. Is any of it real? Who knows.

      • by Dracos (107777) on Wednesday June 15, 2011 @12:06PM (#36451700)

        Something about the fact that they've formed their own central bank [cnbc.com] seems less than grass-roots to me.

        • by mangu (126918)

          Something about the fact that they've formed their own central bank seems less than grass-roots to me.

          To me that's exactly what shows they are not Al Qaeda militants. They are building a regular country's infrastructure, not an Islamist republic.

        • I think the ONLY reason the US is bothering with "helping the Freedom Fighters" in Libya, is BECAUSE the Central Bank does not have their claws in this country.

          Saddam was moving off the Dollar and kicked out Oil Companies -- after years of being "our bad guy" he was suddenly, worst person in the world.

          And guess what? Libya was moving to trading in a collection of currencies rather than the dollar.... ... also, major countries NOT ON BOARD: Iran and North Korea.

          >> I spot a trend...

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by gmack (197796)

      Libya has been an outright sponsor for terrorist organizations for years and when they backed off on the first world they moved in on Africa supplying arms, training and mercenaries to some of the most vicious rebel groups in the region. You can't get much worse than Gaddafi to begin with so the dice roll is worth the risk.

      • by Viol8 (599362)

        Well thats the point - Gaddafi realises that the West can give him a good kicking if he pisses them off and since he's your typical dictator who values his own life he'll naturally restrict himself to what won't get him killed. Al Quaeda doesn't have that restriction - its a nebulous loose knit organisation and has thousands of brainwashed volunteers just ready to die for their idiotic cause. In my mind that is FAR more dangerous that some standard issue psychopath.

      • He opposed Islamists like bin Laden for decades. It's OK if he does all that stuff, because he's one of the good guys!
    • We won't know until it is done. If you know what happened in Afghanistan many years ago we helped the locals there push out the Russians and then deserted them leaving a power vacuum that was filled up by the Taliban. Hopefully, after the rebels win in Libya NATO (and not just the US) will quickly recognize the new government (which right now only a couple of countries have) and provide as much aid as we can - including helping to draft a secular constitution.

      • 'Charlie Wilson's War' was an excellent movie which chronicled this quite well (in a hollywood fashion mind you).
    • This is exactly why we haven't given them surface to air missiles like we did in Afghanistan in the 80s. They tend to still be around later when they turnaround and start shooting at you.
      • by Chris Burke (6130)

        This is exactly why we haven't given them surface to air missiles like we did in Afghanistan in the 80s. They tend to still be around later when they turnaround and start shooting at you.

        Well yeah. Plus it'd be pointless and self-defeating. We gave Stingers to the Mujahideen because they were getting stomped by Russian air power, and being the Cold War we obviously couldn't directly protect them.

        Libya is completely different, because we have free reign to use our Air Force and Navy -- conveniently the branches of military not strained to the limit by two other wars -- and so Qaddafi can't do shit from the air. There's nothing for the rebels to use Stingers on.

        I mean, even in the best case

        • Ahh, the A-10 Warthog. That would be my plane of choice :) Damn near indestructible, low/slow and uber maneuverable.
    • by dave420 (699308)
      I heard about some defecting soldiers who were expecting to find Al Qaeda and foreign fighters among the rebels, but found only Libyans who simply don't want to be in a dictatorship. If they choose the path of fundamentalism, that's up to them.
    • And what in your experienced political opinion indicates that would be worse than Gaddafi, who openly and broadly funded anti-western terrorism? Just let a bunch of seemly oppressed citizens fight for their right for self-governance and check your paranoia at the door. If this all goes ass-over-tit for the West what exactly is going to change for us? It's about time that we all focus a little more on our internal political bullshit and quit worrying about what others may possibly do to us if the absolute w
    • I have a bad feeling about this.

      Me too. I can't help but feel like this is Afghanistan vs. Russia all over again. Today's freedom fighters are tomorrow's terrorists...

  • Libyan Rebels cost for a robotic gun. About $500 after a few weeks of tinkering.
    Probably fails 10% of the time.

    US cost for a robotic gun. 5 million per unit which don't work when first deployed after a 300 million dollar development program taking 4 years to complete. Eventually 90% reliable in the field.

    • by geekoid (135745)

      Ans the us robotic gun will fly and shoot missiles as well as be controlled from the other side of the globe.
      And will be 99.9 percent reliable... and it will cost 9K per unit.

      • by Nadaka (224565)

        This power wheel toy is a lot closer to a Sword [wikipedia.org] than an aerial drone.

        • by geekoid (135745)

          my poorly illustrated point was that the comparison was false. I could have done better.

      • I do not believe it will be 99.9% reliable in field conditions.
        Every time we have a raid, we lose at last one multi-million dollar helicopter.
        The failure rate on these things are classified so we can't really no. But if we lose one jet a year, we are not running a 99.9% reliability and we already lost a jet this year too.

        I do not disagree that we have some impressive weaponly. I'm quite impressed with the Apache helicopters-- effective 2 mile range, day or night for a 1' target. And with our tanks- firin

    • by MaWeiTao (908546)

      I'm impressed by their ingenuity. American hardware of this type is, without question, overpriced. A special effects company out of Hollywood could probably build the same thing for far less than some government contractor.

      That said, you're seriously overestimating the reliability of that Libyan platform and underestimating the effectiveness of the American versions.

      Have you ever seen Power Wheels in action? They run at 5mph, a more expensive model might approach 10mph. An adult can outrun these things. Not

      • by gilleain (1310105)

        Have you ever seen Power Wheels in action? They run at 5mph, a more expensive model might approach 10mph. An adult can outrun these things. Not that it's necessary given that it's a slow moving target. Battery life on these things is maybe 30-60 minutes. They're really only good for getting across fairly flat terrain. And from the video I've seen it looks like it operated via a cable, not wireless.

        A more serious problem should be apparent from the video. There is a guy standing next to the toy truck, feeding it the ammo belt...

  • Now we're going to get weapons-export laws on Tonka trucks, and mandatory background checks for a Barbie Jeep.

  • I'm surprised it's taken this long for this to happen. I remember "hacking" my Big Track [wikipedia.org] when I was a kid by using the 1/8 inch jack that was used to activate the dumping bin to activate a solenoid. Of course my parents only allowed me to use a toy pellet gun.

  • My Big Traks [wikipedia.org]'s wait is almost over! Their day of glory is nigh!

  • man, even the A-Team has to cut back...
    I've often wondered whether powerwheels type toys would make a good hackable robot platform.
  • by coastal984 (847795) on Wednesday June 15, 2011 @11:58AM (#36451582) Journal
    It would have taken the Army 8 years and $100's of millions of dollars for the US to do this. *Sigh* We really should take a lesson in innovation.
    • by jovius (974690)

      Too much resources - everything is made to order. Design and production takes time from innovation, and the result is layer upon layer of bureacracy. Besides it's too cozy - your life and future are not under immediate threat and there's too much money at hand.

      It's amazing what dedicated DIY types can come up with.

    • by Patch86 (1465427)

      This version probably breaks one in three times you try to use it, randomly discharges it's weapon whenever there's a small gust of wind, and occasionally blows up.

      There's nothing wrong with a bit of solid DIY hacking when you're in a tight fix, but it's apples-and-oranges with large scale engineering projects.

      • by Duradin (1261418)

        Don't you think the troops would just love the handcrafted, improvised with *AMERICAN!* ingenuity, cobbled together with no quality control "devices" instead of the cold, heartless, tested, efficient, lighter, tougher, hardened equipment they are normally issued?

        • I think they would prefer not to roll the dice on whether their robot gun is going to shoot the enemy, shoot themselves, or just blow up spectacularly like a big "look who's hiding here" sign.

          I work in EMS. Sure, I look at a $10k power stretcher [stryker.com] and go "I could do that for cheaper"

          But could I? Here's the thing - for mission-critical equipment, you don't fuck around. Be smart about how you spend your money - which means you should get the tool you need and know it'll work right every time. Don't waste it, by

    • by geekoid (135745)

      no it could. It cost 60k-150K, depending on the unit. It's a lot more sophisticated and reliable, and we can mount a very wide range of weaponry.

  • Weapons Development (Score:5, Interesting)

    by CPTreese (2114124) on Wednesday June 15, 2011 @12:02PM (#36451638) Journal

    When I was in Iraq 2006-2008 I was often frustrated by how slow new weapons and defensive mechanism were developed by the DA. Often we would end up fabricating our own IED countermeasures using whatever material we found on our base. We often surprised ourselves with the effectiveness of the ideas we came up with. I've often wondered since then how much more effective that process would have been if it had been possible to attach a team of computer scientists and structural engineers to an Army unit. Instead we ended up trying not to get blown up and hope that someone somewhere was getting our INTEL and developing new vehicles and supplies to counteract a very intelligent and capable enemy.

    BTW my time in Iraq pretty much solidified my opinion that our presence over there is pointless. Assume that we were able to establish a democracy in that country it wouldn't take long for it to fall. All it would take is one Sheik to disagree with the constitution and/or government and automatically the tribe under that Sheik would automatically support the Sheik and work to undermine the government. Tribe and family is far more important in that culture than individual rights and government. So why try to force on them a government that runs counter to their culture. Why is it assumed that everyone really wants to be in a democracy? There is no such thing as one government that fits all people. I tend to be more libertarian but that doesn't mean that a socialist style government is necessarily wrong. I only think that people should be given the choice of moving to whatever country best fits their belief system. Lol let the flaming begin.

    • by vlm (69642)

      I've often wondered since then how much more effective that process would have been if it had been possible to attach a team of computer scientists and structural engineers to an Army unit.

      http://www.usace.army.mil/ [army.mil]

      US Army Corps of Engineers

    • by briansct (1857764)

      Funny, your story reminds me of the one my Dad tells about being in the Army Corps of Engineers in Vietnam. Guys in his unit created their own Banana clip to add ammo capability to their assault rifles. Upper levels freaked when they saw what they had done, eventually though, their design made it back and became the curved design now used.

      BTW I agree with your BTW!

    • by khallow (566160)

      When I was in Iraq 2006-2008

      Things have changed some since then. Iraq still might fall apart the moment the US leaves, but it's not as much of a bloodbath now as it was during your stay there.

      All it would take is one Sheik to disagree with the constitution and/or government and automatically the tribe under that Sheik would automatically support the Sheik and work to undermine the government.

      That's the thing about democracies. It provides a built in system for undermining the government via elections without undermining the society. Maybe that sheik will start shooting, but he's got to consider that his tribe will become fair game for anyone else who allies with the government. And if the government is in good shape at the time, ther

  • So now they're pow-pow-pow-pow-pow-pow-pow, pow-pow-pow-pow, pow-pow-pow-pow-pow-pow-powerwheels!

    And what's a "solider"?

  • Congress bans all Power Wheels.

    "Think of the children" mentioned 100 times in bill.
  • Weaponizing radio-controlled toy vehicles? Life imitates art.
  • by UttBuggly (871776) on Wednesday June 15, 2011 @12:31PM (#36452036)

    Watching the video, and the homemade RPG reminded me of a SAM my cousins and I built as kids.

    1) An Estes model rocket...a WAC Corporal...with a B8-4 motor.
    2) A shipping tube with a launch rod glued to the bottom cap.
    3) Copper strips glued/screwed to bottom cap with wires running outside to a Burgess B battery and momentary switch from Radio Shack.

    You slid the rocket down the tube on the launch rod with the nichrome igniter wires touching the copper strips. Aim, press the switch, and whoosh....a balsa and cardboard Stinger.

    We didn't have the C4 and blasting caps for the warhead portion (thankfully), but we could aim and fire a $4 rocket.

    The nosecone was to be built from C4 with a blasting cap on the nose and underneath. If you missed a direct impact, the ejection charge from the motor would slam a washer into the underneath blasting cap and still detonate the missile. At least that was our thinking.

    Again, we never had anything that actually exploded, but something like this would probably work against low-flying helicopters. A C or D motor would give more range, etc.

    Yes, we had way too much time on our hands. One of our test flights did cause 3 casualties...to a neighbor's chickens. A fin came off on launch and the rocket arced into the neighbor's chicken yard at feeding time. The rocket didn't hit the massed birds but 3 apparently died from fright. We paid for the dead birds from allowances and odd jobs.

    Years later, in the Air Force, I was assigned to the USAF Rocket Propulsion Lab at Edwards AFB. I managed not to kill or blow up anything there.

  • I can just see an innocent looking Barbie pink corvette equipped with weapons ala Kitt from Knight Rider. Hasselhoff cannot be far behind.
    • by powerlord (28156)

      I can just see an innocent looking Barbie pink corvette equipped with weapons ala Kitt from Knight Rider. Hasselhoff cannot be far behind.

      They're going to weaponize Hasselhoff?!?

      Isn't that against the Geneva Convention?

  • Once this civil war is over, we will be left with taxi drivers, engineers and school teachers with experience in guerrilla warfare, improvised weapons and explosives manufacturing, sabotage and military / para-military tactics. I just hope they all return to teaching, driving hack and designing pipelines once Ghadaffi is deposed. Without "boots on the ground" NATO and the US has very little influence on the leadership and/or world view of the various factions that currently are united against their reside
  • Some time ago someone pointed out to me that powerwheels toys would be dramatically more fun for the parents if they could be remote-controlled like giant R/C cars. As it is right now, when junior is out riding his mini-whatever-vehicle, he inevitably will get it stuck and not know how to put it in reverse. If the parents had a remote control for it that could override junior's input, they could throw it in reverse, drive it out, and bring junior back to the top of the driveway, without having to get off
  • Get the rebel.
  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Satyagraha [wikipedia.org]

    The "pacifist"-labelled engineer who says he will kill but then wants to not be like his enemy is probably mostly fooling himself ultimately. Much political violence starts with those words....

    So much innovation there, why can it not be applied in other ways to create abundance for all? How long woudl any regime last if everyone just stops listening at once?
    http://the-open-boat.com/Gatto.html [the-open-boat.com]
    "A lot of the constraints on us, a lot of the ah, ah - strings

    • by couchslug (175151)

      "Simply not cooperating can stop things..."

      Less obvious is the massive cooperation required to make non-cooperation effective.

The meta-Turing test counts a thing as intelligent if it seeks to devise and apply Turing tests to objects of its own creation. -- Lew Mammel, Jr.

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