Further Explorations In Lethal Experiments

Starting with Increasing the Latent Period in a System of Remote Destructability show in Japan earlier this year and with last weekend's Further Explorations in Lethal Experimentation in Germany, Survival Research Labs is among the first civilians to develop and operate a multi-user, teleoperated firing system using free software deployed over the web.

The idea for a show where users could operate a machine remotely was first conceived 3 years ago by Mark Pauline and Eric Paulos with Karen Marcelo implementing the server and client components in a way that provides for concurrent, anonymous remote destruction, making SRL the first to offer the public remote control over potentially lethal devices over the web. A proposed event for 1995 was to have the air launcher set up at Blasthaus and operated over the web by anonymous users.

"We are definetly going to set up the launcher here at SRL." and "construct a 28 ft. dia. target ring for the future air launcher Internet hookup."

          -from communications dated September 1995

Another experiment was proposed for a 1995 Copenhagen event below:

DRAFT: 20 August, 1995 Proposal for Remote Viewing/Control of SRL Machinery via Internet Recent advances in technology and Internet access permit global public remote viewing of live events and remote control of mechanical devices. The primary limitation is bandwidth: B&W images at 1-4 frames per second, and variable delays for control loops. Two example are: The primary innovations of the proposed project are (1) the control of large, complex, and potentially lethal industrial machinery, and (2) the need for extreme portability to allow setup and operation in the field. Below we describe an initial design of modular communications and interface field units that can provide standalone Internet access. There are two types of field unit: Viewing and Control. Viewing units allow passive viewing of live remote images using CCD camera and on-board compression. Control units allow servo control of devices using DAC I/O boards and custom circuitry. Both units include local computer and network interface (phone and ethernet) and are powered off batteries recharged by mobile generators. In the extreme case, cellular phones can eliminate the need for any local services. Due to the diversity of machinery at SRL, we will provide custom software for each unit. All units communicate to the outside world via a remote Server through phone or ethernet lines. The Server links directly to a high-speed (T1 or better) connection to the Internet. Below we outline a rough summary of equipment for each unit. Other costs include transport and per diem for our support crew.

The overall architecture for the Further Explorations in Lethal Experiments implementation is composed of a Java applet that acts as a web interface to the air launcher and communicates with another Java program running on a PC that receives the commands from the user and passes them on to the serial port to operate the device. The server is multi-threaded to enable chaotic, free for all control of the air launcher. No login is required to provide for anonymous destruction.

The shareware version of CuSeeMe was used to provide the user with a live video feed of the view from the air launcher barrel to facilitate aiming.

A free http server downloaded minutes before the demonstration was used to serve up the Java applet to remote users.

  • Air Launcher built by Mark Pauline with assistance from various SRL specialists
  • Directed by Mark Pauline
  • Programming - Eric Paulos, Karen Marcelo
  • Web Interface/Java Programming - Karen Marcelo
  • Reflector setup - Eric Paulos, Marc Anthony Slayton
  • Electronics - Eric Paulos, Greg Leyh, Ralf Burgert
  • Graphics - Diana DeFrancesco, Berk
  • Prop Fabrications - Liisa Pine, Michael Shiloh
  • Ammo and Explosives - Liisa Pine
  • Machining - Chris Bohren
  • Video - Alan Kelley
  • PC/Internet Configuration - Marc Anthony Slayton, Eric Paulos, Karen Marcelo