Christopher Fessenden is a remote-controlled vehicle hobbyist, so when he was deployed to Afghanistan, he took his toy truck, outfitted with a small video camera with him.
There, the truck became a valuable tool for scouting ahead of convoys and patrols, looking for improvised explosive devices.
This week the truck found one. A big one. Fessenden said in an interview that "at least 500 pounds" of explosives rigged with a tripwire in the road in front of an Army patrol went off when the truck got tangled in the tripwire.
The six men in the vehicle who would have been victims of the bomb credit the tiny toy with saving their lives.
The man whose Rochester, NY-store provided the original truck - appropriately named "maximum destruction," immediately sent a replacement. Fully outfitted, the trucks cost about $500.
The military has spent truckloads of money looking for ways to mitigate the threat of IEDs, the number one killer of U.S. troops in Afghanistan.
Perhaps they should invest in a few more of these. I predict in coming years, robotic versions of trucks like this will become standard issue for troops heading to the war zone.
Of course, though, if the military is buying them, you can be sure they'll be paying a lot more than $500.