Latest By
Category:


Armor
Artificial Intelligence
Biology
Clothing
Communication
Computers
Culture
Data Storage
Displays
Engineering
Entertainment
Food
Input Devices
Lifestyle
Living Space
Manufacturing
Material
Media
Medical
Miscellaneous
Robotics
Security
Space Tech
Spacecraft
Surveillance
Transportation
Travel
Vehicle
Virtual Person
Warfare
Weapon
Work

"Science fiction and science have always danced around each other. Science fiction is the subconscious of science."
- Greg Bear

Dope Mule Robot  
  A metal sphere that propels itself with a single piston-like foot.  

It's a little delivery robot, with a GPS locator so you can get your stuff delivered anywhere, anytime.

Then she saw it too. A bouncing machine. Something very much like a camouflage-painted kangaroo.

It was crossing the hills with vast, unerring, twenty-meter leaps. A squat metal sphere, painted in ragged patches of dun and olive drab. It had a single thick, pistoning, metal leg.

The bounding robot whipped that single metal leg around with dreadful unerring precision, like some nightmare one-legged pirate. It whacked its complex metal foot against the earth like a hustler's cue whacking a pooi ball, and it bounded off instantly, hard. The thing spent most of its time airborne, a splotchy cannonball spinning on its axis and kicking like a flea against the Texan earth. It was doing a good eighty klicks an hour. As it got closer she saw that its underside was studded with grilled sensors.

It gave a final leap and, God help her, a deft little somersault, and it landed on the earth with a brief hiss of sucked-up impact. Instantly, a skinny little gunmetal tripod flicked Out from beneath it, like a triple set of hinged switchblades.

And there it sat, instantly gone as quiet as a coffee table, not ten meters away from them.

"All right," she said. "What is that thing?"

"It's a dope mule. From my friends in Matamoros."

"Oh, Jesus."

"Look," he said, "relax. It's just a cheaper street version of Charlie, your car! Charlie's a smuggler's vehicle, and this is a smuggler's vehicle. It's just that instead of having two hundred smart spokes and driver's seats and roll bars like that big kick-ass car does, it's only got one spoke. One spoke, and a gyroscope inside, and a global positioning system." He shrugged. "And some mega chip inside so it never runs into anything and no cop ever sees it."

"Oh," she groaned. "Yeah, this is great, Alex."

"It'll carry, I dunno, maybe forty kilos merchandise. No big deal. Dope people have hundreds of these things now. They don't cost much to make, so it's like a toy for 'em.

"Why didn't you tell me about this?"

"Are you kidding? Since when do I ask your permission to do anything?" He walked up to the mule.

She hurried after him. "You'd better not."

"Get away from there!" he yelped. "They're hot-wired." Jane jumped back warily, flinching, and Alex chuckled with pleasure.

"Tamperproof! Put in the wrong password, and the sucker explodes on the spot and destroys all the evidence! And what's more-if you're not, like, their friend? Or they're tired of dealing with you? Then sometimes they just booby-trap it, and blow you away the second you touch the keypad."

He laughed. "Don't look so glum. That's all just legend, really. Doper brag talk. The dope vaqueros hardly ever blow anyone up. You and me both know the border doesn't mean anything anymore. There are no more borders. Just free and open markets!" He chuckled merrily. "They can send me whatever the hell they want. Dope, explosives, frozen human hearts, who cares? They're just another delivery service."

Alex punched a long string of numbers, with exaggerated care, into a telephone keypad welded into the top of the mule. The robot mulled the matter over, then hissed open on a stainless-steel hinge, showing a big rubber 0-ring around its midsection.

From Heavy Weather, by Bruce Sterling.
Published by Bantam in 1994
Additional resources -

Compare to the Hopper from Lucky Starr and the Oceans of Venus (1954) by Isaac Asimov.

Comment/Join this discussion ( 0 ) | RSS/XML | Blog This |

Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Heavy Weather
  More Ideas and Technology by Bruce Sterling
  Tech news articles related to Heavy Weather
  Tech news articles related to works by Bruce Sterling

Dope Mule Robot-related news articles:
  - Prototype Jockey-Ridden Hopping Robot
  - Precision Urban Hopper Robot Must 'Stick' Landings
  - Precision Urban Hopper Leaps Fence Video
  - 'Air Hopper' Robot Grasshopper
  - Disney Hopping Robot, From Disney Research
  - Just Eat And Starship Bring You Food Via Robot
  - China Delivery Robot Development Quickens During COVID-2019 Outbreak
  - Drones Used To Smuggle Contraband Into Prison

Articles related to Robotics
Tesla Will Have Metal Gear Snake Autocoupler, Musk Confirms
I Love Ceiling-Mounted Robots
Salto Jumping Robot Now Sticks Landing!
It's Time For Robots With Soft, Sensitive Skin

Want to Contribute an Item? It's easy:
Get the name of the item, a quote, the book's name and the author's name, and Add it here.

<Previous
Next>

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.

 

 

 

 

More News

Tesla Will Have Metal Gear Snake Autocoupler, Musk Confirms
'Its motion was so swift, complex, and perfect that at first I did not see it as a machine, in spite of its metallic glitter.'

Starlink Satellites Leading Edge On-Orbit Debris Mitigation
Propulsion-assisted orbital decay, brought to you by SpaceX.

Healight Ultraviolet Endotracheal Device Has Covid-19 Treatment Potential
'He applied the tip of the instrument to the interior of the wound...'

Parents Use AI To See One Last Message From Their Deceased Son
'...what's to keep me from showing face, Man?'

Satoshi Tomizu Creates Pocket Universes And Worldcraft Bubbles In Glass
'The Worldcraft bubble glittered, catching the light...'

Space Hero Inc. Offers Trip To ISS As Reality Show Prize
'This is Elmer Schmitz, presenting to you the finalists in our Aviation Quiz Program...'

I Love Ceiling-Mounted Robots
'Immediately an enormous apparatus fell on to her out of the ceiling...'

Armano Remote Control Excavator
'The bulldozer moved through the... mine... '

OK, NASA 3D Printer Of Food Not Yet Star Trek Food Synthesizer
Maybe not, but we're seeing definite progress.

Kelly Clarkson Show Like Black Mirror '15 Million Merits'
'These people are pieces of software called avatars.'

More SF in the News

More Beyond Technovelgy

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

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.