A screenshot from a Russia Today video report about the Syrian rebels' homemade armored car that uses a PS3 controlller to aim the gun.
Credit: Russia Today
A Syrian rebel holding a PlayStation game controller looks like he's playing "Battlefield 3" or "Call of Duty: Black Ops II" on his flat panel TV. But it's no game — he's controlling a machine gun located on a homemade armored car cobbled together by enterprising rebel engineers in their fight against Syrian military forces.
The armored vehicle, called Sham II, has rusting steel armor about 2.5 centimeters thick that can supposedly survive 23 mm cannon fire, according to Agence France-Presse. But the rebels won't enjoy similar protection against incoming fire from tanks or rocket-propelled grenades.
A driver can steer the vehicle from inside by watching a flat-panel TV displaying the views of three front cameras and one back camera located outside. Next to the driver, the gunner watches another TV showing the view of a separate camera attached to the machine gun on top of Sham II.
The PlayStation controller allows the gunner to swivel the gun toward enemies and take aim based on the camera view — a somewhat eerie use of video game technology that mimics the posture and view of gamers all around the world.
News reports don't say exactly what inspired designer Mahmud Abud, a member of the Al-Ansar rebel brigade in northwest Syria, to turn the PlayStation controller into a remote controller for a real machine gun. But the improvised creation may reflect the strong association between video games and the military, as seen in both blockbuster games and serious military simulators that typically give players a view from behind the barrel of a gun.
This is not the first example of video game technology crossing over into military applications. Humble video game controllers have already found a surprising amount of dual-use as controllers for U.S. military robots and drones. That plays to the strengths of the younger generation of U.S. soldiers, sailors, Marines and Air Force pilots who grew up with video game controllers in hand.
The armored car also represents the latest in a line of do-it-yourself (DIY) weapons created by rebel forces in conflicts ranging from last year's Libyan civil war to the ongoing Syrian civil war. Libyan rebels previously showed off a machine gun-toting robot.
This story was provided by TechNewsDaily, a sister site to LiveScience. You can follow TechNewsDaily Senior Writer Jeremy Hsu on Twitter @jeremyhsu. Follow TechNewsDaily on Twitter @TechNewsDaily, or on Facebook.