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 ")

When Computers Develop Their Own Language, Will They Talk To Us?
'The curious absent look of a robot talking on the TBR circuits - the Talk Between Robots radio...' - Frederik Pohl, 1954.

Robot Strolls Field, Examines EVERY Plant
'The great machines that did the work ... required but a few dozen men to cultivate an entire county.' - John W. Campbell

TITAN-III Spider Robot Is WAY Too Quick (Video)
'My little friends can find you wherever you go!' - Michael Crichton, 1984.

Bill Gates Suggests Tax On Robots
'A worker replaced by a nubot that 'appears or pretends to be human' had to be compensated...'- John Twelve Hawks, 2014.

 

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

Keith Laumer's Bolo Autonomous Tanks Right On Schedule
'I cannot lie idle under attack.'

When Computers Develop Their Own Language, Will They Talk To Us?
'The curious absent look of a robot talking on the TBR circuits - the Talk Between Robots radio...'

LipNet Reads Lips - Until Disconnected, That Is
'We'd have to cut his higher brain functions... I'm not sure what [HAL} would think about that.'

Eterni.me - To Skype With The Dead
'Nothing... left of Jeserac but a galaxy of electrons frozen in the heart of a crystal.'

Wearable MRI Is Former Occulus/Facebook Exec's New Project
'Your cephalochromoscope... that you always turn on and play when you get home...'

Ford Stratasys Infinte Build 3D Printer
'He proudly indicated his Buick... Almost as good as the original it was printed from...'

The Space Suit As Personal Spaceship
'Darn clever, these suits...'

Dune Fans! Your God Emperor Is Ready
'If one held a sandtrout in the hand, smoothing it over your skin, it formed a living glove.'

Robot Strolls Field, Examines EVERY Plant
'The great machines that did the work ... required but a few dozen men to cultivate an entire county.'

Sweden Outlaws Drones
'An eye that could not only see, but fly, roam, travel at speeds and in directions to suit its operator...'

Wear Your Self-Powered Generator
'It's basically a micro-sandwich...'

TITAN-III Spider Robot Is WAY Too Quick (Video)
'My little friends can find you wherever you go!'

Bill Gates Suggests Tax On Robots
'A worker replaced by a nubot that 'appears or pretends to be human' had to be compensated...'

Handle, New Wheeled Hopping Robot
'the hopper sprang thirty feet into the air...'

Matrix Sentinel Ancestor, The Pipe Inspector Robot From Krakow
Watch out, Keanu!

Auto-Focus Smart Glasses Have Liquid Lenses
'Hufhuf oil held in static tension by an enclosing force field within a viewing tube...'

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.