Because the official equipment for such purposes is too expensive, soldiers in Iraq are using remote-controlled toy cars to determine if unidentifiable road debris is explosive or not. Here's Sgt. Greg Papadatosof the 69th Infantry Regiment explaining the technique at MilitaryDiaries.com:
"E.S. sends out his little RC car and rams it. If it's light enough to be moved or knocked over, it's too light to be a bomb, so we can approach it and get rid of it. If it's heavy, we call EOD. At night, they duct tape a flashlight to the car.
The military actually has robots that it uses for such things, but they are larger, slower, higher-tech, and frightfully expensive. Only EOD units have them, and you could wait for hours and hours before they show up with their robot. If 200 units read about this idea, and 50 units actually buy a toy RC car, and it saves just one single life, it would all be worth it."
The Pentagon hasn't embraced the idea yet, but we know it's trying to save money these days, so who knows where this could lead? The "Incredible Rubberband Machine Gun" doesn't quite pack the wallop of an M-240B, but it is a lot less expensive. — GREG BEATO
Going "Outside the Wire" with RC Cars [Military Diaries]
Rumsfeld Defends Propopsed Base Closings [LA Times]