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24 March 2015


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cha chang cha chang

has that noise/war been beneficial to the way of life in US for most people? excepting wall street, mil industry, etc?????


Remember this one?

U.S. Military M274 Truck, Platform, Utility 1/2 Ton, 4X4...

Was not able to copy the pix.


It's probably as vulnerable as a real mule to small arms fire but 1000 times more expensive.


You can't eat this one but on the bright side no poop scooping. I wonder how many they made since they were founded in the last century.



Maybe we should get rid of all these mechanical transportation things; trucks, APCs self-propelled artillery, etc, and start setting up re-mount stations again. pl


The SEALS use very heavily muffled outboard engines. Of course, they can dump the exhaust underwater but they can be quieted by a large factor. A main issues is that this, in turn, would probably increase fuel use by quite a bit.


Don't forget the air transport and diesel powered ships as well. Polluting bastards that they are. Back to tall ships and the smells that sickened their passengers.


What about real mules? They ARE ALREADY quiet, eat grass, and they are cuter.



And I'm half serious. The German Army Gebirgsjäger still use them.



Not only loud but also needs lots of energy to keep going. Much more than any wheeled vehicle with the same load capability. I'd also question the reliability.

How much net-load capacity is left when that thing has to carry the fuel it needs to run for a day or two?

BTW: Any hope that such a helper would lessen the load the soldiers would have to carry is a bit optimistic. The generals would just have an excuse to add some nice, useless but heavy toys to the mandated load for a squad and the load on the soldiers back would likely stay the same.

The Twisted Genius

An interesting idea, but that thing gives me the willies every time I see it walking around. I'm worried about the noise. When we moved to newer mountain skis and bindings we had a noise problem. The old skis were silent, but the new ones made these clicking sounds. You could hear a team coming from quite a distance. Still, something has to be done about carrying a hundred twenty pounds of light weight shit. I remember the old mule still being used by the Marines in Hawaii to carry their 106 recoilless rifles. I thought they were a good idea.


When in 10th Group, several of our teams went to Colorado to train on real mules. I liked them. Made me feel like an old sourdough.

nick b

I've seen this a couple of different times on TV. It's pretty amazing to see. I believe I have read that it has been field tested by the Marines. Besides being a beast of burden for gear there was also potential for using it as a weapons platform or a robotic litter bearer.

I believe Boston Dynamics is owned by Google.

Charles I

Wow, you gotta love engineers. That was way cool.I was kinda skeptical til I watched it roll over at the end of the video, very nimble, quick on the level, Motor's obviously working hard and \I think that was a no load test video. Could it walk on three legs in combat?

I'd like a quiet one right now as a toy, be nice if it'd come over and turn the garden and put the docks in.


This is Boston Dynamics, headed up by Marc Raibert, the world's #1 researcher on robot legs. They recently got bought by Google, which might or might not slow down the militarization. The reason this "Big Dog" model is so loud is the air compressor. They are working on a range of other models, including all-electric ones.

The biggest problem with fielding real robots is the power source. Pure electric is impractical in the deep field, and even petroleum-powered ones need replacement fuel. Day-hike missions from a central refueling base could be practical.


Agree the noise is a problem. It would be like going on patrol pushing a gas powered lawnmower. The way it moves over rough terrain is impressive and they won't have to worry about the male mules mounting the females.


Boston Dynamics is also doing the PetMan, a bipedal humanoid ("Terminator") design made available for use in DARPA's Humanoid Robot grand challenge. Milepost demos coming to Los Angeles in the beginning of June. The challenge entails driving a golf cart, walking over loose rubble, opening a door, and then sawing through a wall when the door is stuck. The cover story is the robots could be used for nuclear repairs in e.g. Japan. Actual envisioned infantry usage is explored in the excellent independent B-movie concept piece "Chappie" from South Africa, distrib. by Sony, showing a civilian human/robot SWAT team taking down "terrorists". (Almost as good as a James Bond movie, more like Mad Max.) See the first 25 sec of the trailer here:
and remember, Whatever can be done FOR you, can be done TO you.

The A.I. shown in Chappie is perhaps 8-16 years out for basic competency. The movie brings up the following problems: hardware dongles can get stolen; developers can get kidnapped & coerced; network-based robots can get hacked & co-opted; trusted robots can be subverted. No real solutions are offered. Robot designers have around a decade before this gets too real and starts causing problems. Any suggestions?


3 legs: yes but they'd have to work on it, and it could have load problems. Raibert did his original research with 1-legged systems.



I saw a brilliant parody of their Big Dog demo youtubes a few years back. Here you go: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mXI4WWhPn-U



PL, . My criticism isn't about mechanical transportation.
The software, sensors and actuators would be great for more capable unmanned and autonomous reconnasaince vehicles. Mechanical animals that can flutter, fly and crawl unnoticed.
A truck or armored vehicle with active suspension to reduce rollovers would be a good idea. Reducing the load a soldier had to carry would be a good idea. I see this device as a test platform to improve conventional load carriers.


Optimax --

"won't have to worry about the male mules mounting the females."

obviously you know nothing about the engineering fraternities at CMU.


I suppose it could be armored and muffled but there's a reason people move things with wheels. I could see a good application being a smart loader for a truck where an arm is simply told what to do and it loads/unloads pallets or gear running off the vehicles hydraulics.



The recent wars have been largely fought by light forces required to carry very heavy and body damaging loads because of a lack of motor transport. Something should be done about that. Is this a perfect or fully developed solution? No, but it shows constructive thinking in the direction of solving that problem. If you are a pacifist and think we should not have armed forces then this is a waste of money. If not... pl



Should we get rid of DARPA? It contributes to the development of military capabilities. pl

The Twisted Genius


That was fantastic. Nerds rule!


We used a donkey in Afghanistan once to carry our 60mm mortar system over some bad hills once.

I think pack animals are an untapped resource myself versus carrying around everything you own to hike the Hindu Kush.


legs are only really useful where wheels or treads can't go, such as up mountain slopes or inside heavy urban development such as shopping centers.

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