MULE Autonomous Navigation Vehicle By Lockheed Martin

The Lockheed Martin MULE (Multifunction Utility/Logistics and Equipment) autonomous robotic vehicle passed a major milestone this week. The MULE is designed to be an automated pack-animal for troops, following them with heavy loads.


(MULE robotic vehicle [pdf])

The MULE proved itself able to autonomously climb a thirty-inch step and bridge a seventy-inch gap without any operator intervention. The MULE used only parametric descriptions of the obstacles and the vehicle's own self-awareness, and used its specialized articulated suspension and in-hub motors powering each wheel. Multiple tie-down points and removable/foldable side railings will support virtually any payload variation.

"We've now demonstrated mobility that exceeds the HMMWV or any other small combat vehicle," said Joe Zinecker, program manager for the FCS MULE at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control. "The MULE can keep up with dismounted Soldiers, and will not be restricted to roads or trails like most other vehicles. We are eager to provide this capability to our Soldiers as early as 2013."

The MULE was neatly anticipated by several science fiction writers. John Varley, writing in his 1976 story In the Bowl, wrote about a vehicle he called a "tagalong:"

Maybe you've never seen one. They're modern science's answer to the backpack. Or maybe to the mule train, though in operation you're sure to be reminded of the safari bearers in old movies, trudging stolidly along behind the White Hunter with bales of supplies on their heads...
(Read more about the tagalong)

Anthony Boucher probably came closest in his classic 1951 story The Quest for Saint Aquin; his device could also engage you in conversation and had a verbal interface:

It looked harmlessly like a woodpile sheltered against possible rain. Thomas pulled off the skins and contemplated the sleek functional lines of the robass. Smiling, he stowed his minimal gear into its panniers and climbed into the foam saddle. The starlight was bright enough so he could check the necessary coordinates on his map and feed the data into the electronic controls...

Thomas had never ridden a robass before...
(Read more about the robass)

NASA is dreaming about having the same thing for astronauts - see Boudreaux - Extra Vehicular Activity Robotic Assistant. And how about a smaller version - the BigDog Quadruped Robot.

Via Space Daily; see also this descriptive pdf - Multifunction Utility/Logistics and Equipment Vehicle/Armed Robotic Vehicle-Assault (Light).

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 7/11/2007)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 0 )

Related News Stories - (" Robotics ")

Humans Help Robots Identify Recyclables
'You give it a good look... then press the right button and in she goes.' - Harry Harrison, 1956.

CommU Robot Children Scare Me
'Is David malfunctioning?' - Brian Aldiss, 1967.

VelociRoACH Insect Robots Cooperate
'They wheeled and turned in macabre simultaneity...'- Isaac Asimov, 1944.

Best Surgeon? The Smart Tissue Autonomous Robot
'The fingers were long and were shaped into artistically metallic, looping curves...' - Isaac Asimov, 1976.

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

 

Current News

Ignition Interlock Devices Stopped 1.7 Million Drunken Tries
'Maybe the car was right...'

Man Filmed Sleeping In Tesla On Autopilot
'Mary Risling settled back for a little nap...'

Otto Self-Driving Truck Kits
'Trucks gulped packages and scurried like beetles...'

Humans Help Robots Identify Recyclables
'You give it a good look... then press the right button and in she goes.'

Is This Robotic Hand As Quick As Yours?
'V-Stephen's surgeon-hand, a self-contained robot of precision quality...'

DARPA's XS-1 Spaceplane
'They were more airplane than spaceship...'

Douglas Adams Your Babel Fish Is Ready - The Pilot By Waverly
'You'll need to have this fish in your ear.'

OMG! DIY Arduino Robot Vacuum Cleaner Like Bradbury's Mice
'Out of warrens in the wall, tiny robot mice darted.'

NASA Culturing ISS Walls For Microbes
'Collect organisms and dust for study...'

Siemens 3D Printing Robot Spiders
'The eight thin metallic legs were pointed downwards, balanced delicately...'

Implants Melt In Your Brain, Not In Your Hands
Implant and forget - they melt in your brain, not in your hands.

Baby Boomers Will LOVE Autonomous Cars (Trust Me!)
'Old people began to cross the continent in their own cars....'

ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet Tests His Suit
'The interior will be like airless and pressure-less space.'

DIY Method To Summon Tesla With Amazon Echo
'Thomas focussed the violet beam of a hand flash on a plate...'

AI Lawyer 'Ross' Gets First Job
'Why don't we just feed the bloody thing to LEX...'

MIT's Second Skin Enhances Original Skin
'I must care, or I wouldn't live in this lying skin suit...'

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.