WHAT: San Francisco techie Cody Oliver needed a robotic control system for a Burning Man art car he was building for Tesla boss Elon Musk. He bought one online and discovered it was from the Pentagon’s failed $30 million lightning gun bomb-fryer.
HOW: The lightning gun was supposed to fire pulsating laser bursts that carved channels in the air, transmitting electricity that fried bombs from a safe distance. The “wonder weapon” spectacularly failed all tests and was dumped after 2006.
WHY IT’S OUTRAGEOUS: When Oliver dismantled the controller, he found it was a $30 million kludge made from off-the-shelf components and operated via open Wi-Fi. In other words, the lightning gun could be taken over by insurgent hackers.