Researchers unveiled today a unique unmanned military vehicle prototype that combines mobility, payload-carrying capacity, and ruggedness to aid troops in combat.
The "Crusher" is a 6.5-ton vehicle made of high-strength aluminum tubes and titanium nodes protected by a steel skid plate that can absorb shocks from impacts with rocks and other objects.
The vehicle navigates on its own through tough terrain and overcomes obstacles such as ditches and boulders. It can also carry more than 8,000 pounds in payload and armor. [Video]
With electric motors set in the vehicles' six wheels and powered by a hybrid system that uses a turbo diesel generator, the Crusher can travel almost 26 mph.
"We're developing Crusher to provide technology insights to the broader Army community to show people what can be done and pave the way for the future," said John Bares, director of the National Robotics Engineering Center and the principal investigator for the project. "Although it's not being designed for production, Crusher could be matured further to withstand the rigors of military fielding."
Automated forces like Crusher might initially be used in support roles and later for tactical functions, researchers predict.
"In five to 10 years, we should see robots working alongside our troops to protect them and help with tasks in the field," Bares said.
The technologies used in the development of the Crusher can also have potential use in fields such as construction, faming, and mining.