'Robotic Mule' Ready For Duty, Sir

Lockheed Martin’s Squad Mission Support System can carry up to six hundred pounds of gear for soldiers. It is being tested at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. It uses ladar, or laser radar, to identify the unit it needs to follow and drives off autonomously behind.


(Lockheed Martin’s Squad Mission Support System)

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)

Via Wired.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 7/29/2011)

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