A video published by British television station Sky News shows members of ISIS’ research and development arm testing a home-brewed, remote-controlled car in a former equestrian center located near the group’s headquarters in Raqqa, Syria. The technology used by the terrorists appears to be relatively simple — it’s nowhere near as advanced as the self-driving cars currently being developed by companies like Google — and the device depicted in the video looks like it’s made using parts that are readily available in a junkyard.
Its central component is a power-window motor with two cables that are connected to the accelerator and to the brake pedal, respectively. The winding mechanism that usually opens or closes the window has been rigged to operate the pedals, while a separate motor turns the steering wheel via a series of plastic gears mounted near the top of the steering column.
A moving car without a driver in it would be considered an immediate threat by soldiers scanning it with an infrared sensor. To get around that, ISIS has taken a generic mannequin, coated it with heat-generating wires, and wrapped it in foil. The wires are connected to a self-adjusting thermostat that brings the mannequin up to the same temperature as the human body. In other words, the remote-controlled car bomb can theoretically fool an infrared detector.
Sky News reports the video was shot by ISIS to teach overseas terrorists precisely how to build a remote-controlled car bomb from start to finish. It explains that the technology can be put to use in countries where ISIS is having a difficult time recruiting suicide bombers, though it hasn’t specified which nations are being targeted.