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Cam-wielding RC car used to investigate roadside bomb, saves lives in Afghanistan

Zach Honig
08.08.11
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The US military spends billions of dollars each year beefing up wartime tech, but a low-budget hacked RC car recently served as an unlikely hero, saving six soliders' lives in Afghanistan. The home-built rig, which included a wireless security camera mounted on a Traxxas Stampede remote-controlled truck, cost about $500 when it was built in 2007. Since then, Army Staff Sgt. Christopher Fessenden has used it to locate roadside bombs, until it tripped a detonation sensor during a patrol last month, in turn saving Fessenden and fellow troops from coming head-to-head with 500 pounds of explosives. Unfortunately the RC cam didn't survive the attack, so Ernie, the solider's brother who built the first model, is currently working on a replacement. Sure, a half-grand may seem like a laughable sum compared to the Pentagon's annual budget, but if the proven gadget gets enough attention, perhaps Chinese-made toys will play a role in entertaining our kids, and protecting our troops.