The Pentagon’s multimillion dollar lightning gun project that was not quite up to snuff has been scrapped and sold on eBay. The project’s goal was to utilize remote-controlled lightning guns that would fry insurgent bombs and keep from injuring soldiers.
The lightning guns, also known as “Joint Improvised Explosive Device Neutralizers” (or JINs) were purchased by Cody Oliver, who hoped to use them in an art installment for Burning Man. The JINs were shaped like golf carts and were meant to use short-pulse lasers to carve conductive channels in the air to send electricity down.
Upon receiving the parts, he discovered they were third-rate commercial electronics and that the JINs could be controlled by open Wi-Fi signals. If the JINs had worked, they could have been easily controlled by insurgents as well.
It seemed like a feasible project at first, but after testing on the field, the JINs did not work out. During a test in Afghanistan, the killswitch on one of the JINs failed and it continued firing lightning bolts. They also found that they could not handle different terrain when one JIN rolled downhill and flipped over.
Oliver eventually decided not to use the equipment for Burning Man, saying, “I just don’t trust it.”