Faced with arms shortages and continual bombing by NATO and the forces of Muammar Gaddafi, rebels in Libya are becoming DIY weapons manufacturers. A school in Misrata has been transformed into a makeshift factory, where toys and trucks are turning into machine gun-equipped robots.
Al Jazeera took a tour of the DIY weapons depot, where a Power Wheels toy was transformed into a robot with a machine gun. Mohammad bin Saud’s team designed the car, which can be remotely operated.
A full-sized truck can also be operated from afar, allowing the rebels to hide from snipers while aiming at their targets using a video system.
In another example, the rebels took handlebars and ball bearings from a bike, a base plate from a 4×4 truck, a tank swivel and a gun stripped from a damaged fighter plane, and turned it all into a drivable gun turret.
Battlefield robots are increasingly common among the world’s armies — there are plenty serving in Iraq, for instance — so remote tanks and machine guns are not exactly new. But the DIY aspect takes it to a new level. Some of the Libyan rebels are engineers by training, happy to lend their skills to the liberation effort. But others are simply garage tinkerers — like chief weapons engineer Rajab, a former truck driver. In the Al Jazeera video below, he explains how to salvage found munitions and forge new ones.
When even outnumbered, out-equipped military forces are designing battle robots, it’s pretty clear they represent the future of warfare.