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 ")

Robot With Broken Leg Learns To Walk Again
Robots that learn to walk again are now on the march.

World's First Android Newscaster (Video)
'The autonomic TV interviewer, camera in its hand, blocked his path.'- Philip K. Dick, 1965.

Japan Invites Robot Athletes To Gather For 2020 Olympics
It's time we started to get rid of that distinction between metal and flesh, and IC and neuron, don't you think?

Tiniest Microphone Inspired By Fly
'Transmitting to its manipulator, far away now, all that it heard through its ear microphones...'- Raymond Z. Gallun, 1936.

 

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

Man-Made Space Leaf Creates Oxygen From Water And Light
'What better purifying machine is there than... grass?'

Robot With Broken Leg Learns To Walk Again
Robots that learn to walk again are now on the march.

World's First Android Newscaster (Video)
'The autonomic TV interviewer, camera in its hand, blocked his path.'

Japan Invites Robot Athletes To Gather For 2020 Olympics
It's time we started to get rid of that distinction between metal and flesh, and IC and neuron, don't you think?

CV Dazzle Anti-Surveillance Make-Up
Let's hear it for the vague blur!

LG Display's 18 Inch Flexible OLED Panel Is Awesomely Cool
'...a wide sheet of clear material suddenly flared with light and swirling color.'

Tiniest Microphone Inspired By Fly
'Transmitting to its manipulator, far away now, all that it heard through its ear microphones...'

NASA's Highway In The Sky For Drones
Traffic is everywhere.

Palcohol Powdered Alcohol - Try Or Ban?
'I had a small can of powdered alcohol disguised as tooth powder...'

pd.id Personal Drink ID Device Like Dune 'Poison Snooper'
'The jeweled hands clutching drinks (and the unobtrusive inspections with tiny remote-cast snoopers)...'

Monsieur Bartending Robot
'He poured the liquids into his maw...'

Cities Detect Gunfire Acoustics With ShotSpotter
'Sound trackers on the roof...'

Cruise Automation's 'Highway Autopilot' For $10K
'It cut her out of the stream of vehicles and reduced the speed of her car...'

Pengheng Space Capsule Hotel Staffed Entirely By Robots
'A planet-wide chain of hotels that specialized in non-human service.'

Electric Bacteria That Live On Pure Energy
'April 5, 1977; that was the night the waveries came.'

EXACTO Smart Bullet From DARPA
Nicely visualized in what 1984 movie?

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.