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"The point sticks in your head: physics rules. Virtue does not triumph unless the physics allows it."
- Larry Niven

Chevaline  
  An open robotic vehicle for one person, shaped like a horse.  

Seems to derive from the French word for an equestrian statue. Most of these seem to be large public monuments, as opposed to small garden statues.

A horse, or something built around the same general plan, was coming down the street at a hard gallop. Its hooves did not make the pocking noise of iron horseshoes. Bud realized it was a chevaline - a four-legged robot thingy.
From The Diamond Age, by Neal Stephenson.
Published by Bantam Books in 1995
Additional resources -

As unique as it is, there are a variety of references to this sort of conveyance. See also references to FESS in A Warlock In Spite Of Himself (Christopher Stasheff) and to Black in The Changing Land (Roger Zelazny). As it happens, FESS also had retractable rubber pads to let it gallop noiselessly. Both of these are fantasy novels that make use of the special place that a robotic vehicle of "cold iron" has in worlds where organic magic works.

In case you feel the urge to actually see robotic carts and such wandering around the countryside, you might want to visit the Robot Vehicle Range in Albuquerque, NM.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from The Diamond Age
  More Ideas and Technology by Neal Stephenson
  Tech news articles related to The Diamond Age
  Tech news articles related to works by Neal Stephenson

Chevaline-related news articles:
  - R7 Ridable Robot

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