> The walking truck was one of the first technological hardware design applications to incorporate force feed-back to give the operator a feel of what was happening.
This might sound primitive in today's autonomy-driven mindset, but in contrast to autonomous robots, this is a technology that could be delivered today (or was already delivered in 1965, according to the article).
So if infantry really does need hardware to move stuff from A to B, the 1965 approach -- primitive as it is -- might be the simplest solution.
Putting threads on a box or crap on human backs?
Because whether at rest or in action (an other commenter provided a video) that thing looks like it would tip over if you looked at it funny, let alone "over rough terrain".
A group of infantrymen should have no problem getting it back upright. Shenanigans moving heavy things is what they do when they get bored but don't have any lower effort mischief to engage in.
Well sure but why would they use it in action aside from the fun factor of seeing this lumbering contraption (and at 1400kg empty with a top speed of 8km/h "lumbering" is putting it midly) flail and fall over every few minutes?
No better than a souped up ATV would. Probably worse, with harder maintenance and more breakdown potential.
> Also, it's worth remembering that this is a prototype, not a finished system.
Doesn't matter, it's the concept itself which is nonsense.
>No better than a souped up ATV would
Big obstacles necessitate some combination of big tires (and all the big heavy parts to turn those without breaking) and massive amounts of suspension travel in order to maintain wheels on the ground (and therefore stability). A legged vehicle of the same weight would be able to carry much larger cargo or go over much rougher terrain because it would simply be able to step through each obstacle rather than roll over it.
>Probably worse, with harder maintenance and more breakdown potential.
Pin and bushings joints aren't exactly maintenance intensive and in "you should have replaced this last year" condition they tend to be more operable rotary power transmission systems. The problem is figuring out how to control the damn thing. Fairly recent advances in programming techniques (ML, basically) have resulted in new solutions for this problem which has resulted in renewed interest in legged systems.
>Doesn't matter, it's the concept itself which is nonsense.
There's a reason people keep trying to make legged designs viable. They're very attractive for navigating rough terrain because they offer the potential to do equivalent work with a smaller (and therefore cheaper and simpler to maintain) vehicle. It just turns out that every time someone has tried to build one the technology isn't quite there yet.
Not at all. Look at the kind of terrain that recent Boston Dynamics bots can handle. The concept is solid, they just didn't have the technology yet to make it practical. (And we're still working on it.)
You sound like someone who doesn't understand the concept of context.
> Try driving any wheeled vehicle over terrain that's filled with rocks and boulders; it can't be done.
Neither can driving the Walking Truck over that same terrain is my point.
> But I can easily walk over it, climb through fissures, etc.
Putting crap on the back of humans who are pretty good at navigating bad terrain is exactly one of my suggestions?
>Neither can driving the Walking Truck over that same terrain is my point.
Why do you believe this? You're stating it as fact, and it sounds like BS to me.
8kph is a gentle jog, hardly lumbering.
Turns out it was cancelled for mainly other reasons. Quoting : "By late 2015, the Marines had put the LS3 into storage because of limitations with the robot including loud noise, challenges in repairing it if it breaks, and how to integrate it into a traditional Marine patrol"
Robots are awesome but integrating practical robotics with mission critical operations is really really hard, especially because you're automatically competing with battle-tested best in class solutions.
Don't get me wrong, I love my fellow kinematically-complicated meatbags but I do kind of think wheels win this round.
The other kind of "extreme off-road differential steered" ATV that people both want (and then seemingly want to sell soon after - almost like a boat) is the Russian Sherp:
I'd love to have one of those - but they are a bit out of my budget (and my wife would probably divorce me if I brought one home, even if I could afford it).
BD has a long term vision for robotics and I'm not suggesting that they should stop working towards that. Just making the point that it's possible to create robust solutions using simpler robotics even in complex environments.
It seems they shipped a few prototypes…
For a completely new military program, that's close to your best case scenario. Most new programs get dropped after the first prototype.
I guess I don't see delivering prototypes as selling well, but arguing opinions is boring, so whatever.
> It was exhausting to control and, according to program lead Ralph Mosher who was the designer and primary driver, operators could only drive the walking truck for a limited time.
The thing looks a little top heavy to me. I wonder if there are airbags :)
Also - external hydraulics seems like quite a limitation.
Interesting to see a real life Mech!
 - http://www.heavymetal.com/news/these-amazing-paintings-raise...
 - https://stonemaiergames.com/games/scythe/
now that's a seriously cool name!
The pic makes me think of Strandbeests and derivatives: https://www.strandbeest.com/
The Death Star isn't a star but the name is cool.
A big problem with those heavy legged machines is very low road speed. The Ponsse machine is much faster when you aren't in difficult terrain, so you can get it to the job under its own power. Deere copied that and now makes those, too.
"[It] was designed with sensitive or by other means harder to reach terrain with minimum impact on the environment in mind."
http://www.unusuallocomotion.com/pages/museums/museum-of-lus... (Near the bottom)
Also remember these are expensive prototypes designed to test things other than speed. Making them faster only guarantees that they break themselves harder when they run into a wall or trip over a cliff or something.
>I think Neal Stephenson described a skateboard with hundreds of tiny feet, moving faster than wheels on any surface. I want to see that.
I am neither Neal Stephenson nor a physicist but I'm pretty sure the friction caused by the increased surface contact of "hundreds of tiny feet" versus wheels would still make the wheels faster and more efficient. Geckos and things can stick to vertical surfaces and move quickly because they're lightweight. Anything capable of sticking to an arbitrary surface and supporting human weight is going to be slow. And if moving downhill, wheels don't really need to do work - gravity does the work. Something with "hundreds of tiny feet" either has to slide or "walk."
IIRC the Neal Stephenson version was tiny feet mounted on wheels - not walking or sliding but rolling. But better than rubber pneumatics at evening out curbs or other obstacles.
They seemed similar to old-tech Pedrail wheels:
I think something like them has been made - but instead of the spokes ending in "feet" - they instead were encircled by a rubber deformable tread; Tweels are another interesting style of this technology, and simpler mechanically:
Centipedes appear to move very fast because they're small relative to us and lightweight - at scale, they don't move very fast. But if you take a centipede and scale it up to the size of a train (square cube law notwithstanding), it would just be a very slow train-sized centipede. To make it faster, you would have to make its legs longer, because legs are levers.
Humans have legs too, but they aren't very fast at all. I can easily outrun any human on my bicycle.
The main advantage for legs is dealing with rough terrain. I can hike over/through extremely rough terrain that I would never dream of taking a bike on. But for speed, nothing beats wheels on a smooth surface. You can't have both.
EDIT: fixed mistake - put "Dante" but meant Genghis...
He's also the guy behind the GE Hardiman exoskeleton:
...which was another system much like this truck. For that one - and I don't know how true it was - it was said that it could get into a feedback loop that could cause injuries to the user, but it wasn't clear if that was for the entire "suit" or for the mounted arm test assembly (they had built a single arm up to the shoulder and mounted it on a stand to test it separately from the "suit").
GE was heavily into this field of what they called "man amplifiers" - several of the later ones spearheaded by Mosher:
This was also the same time period as Hughes Aircraft's MOBOT systems - which were meant as remote manipulators for working in nuclear research, underwater repaid, and similar harsh environments:
What we now know as "ROVs" (and UAVs, UGVs, and other names) all stem from a lot of this research back then (and earlier). Hughes' system was actually kind of innovative; there is a paper you can dig up (in fact, I think it's linked on one of the above articles) that detail how these systems were controlled:
They needed to control a lot of various servo and other actuators, but they couldn't use a long cable with tons of wires - they needed the cable to be flexible and not weigh a ton (which is still an issue today). But they didn't have the modern electronics we have today to accomplish it. What they ended up doing was using a synchronized motor-switching system that had two rotary switches driven by synchronous motors on both ends. There was a mechanism in place to keep them "in sync" so that the switch connected on one end would be the same as on the other end. The controller at the transmitter would thus be connected to the proper motor or actuator at the other end, many times a second, and the umbilical only needed a few wires (plus wires for power - which IIRC was AC and served as part of the sync system - plus wires for video feeds). In a way, it was an early form of electro-mechanical multiplexing.
It quickly gave way to more electronic methods (likely things more closely resembling serial PPM, used in hobby radio control systems - once reliable transistors became common; while such a thing could have been done with vacuum tubes, it wouldn't have been reliable on such machines and environments) - but reading that paper was an interesting insight on how to do things differently! In fact, it's similar in scope to how Westinghouse did something similar for telemetry monitoring and control back in the 1920s and 30s - and showcased in their "robot" Electro - by using sounds and tuning forks, in a similar was to electrical coherer systems - they could control relays remotely using tones sent down telephone lines. Why Hughes didn't use a similar approach is a mystery - could have been patent reasons, or reliability issues or something of that nature.
It's a fascinating period of history in robotics, control theory, computation, and more in my opinion (also at this time, you have a large interest going on in artificial intelligence - such as it was in those years - and deep behind the scenes, there was certain interest in so-called "artificial neurons" - hardware implementations of the McCulloch-Pitts neuron model. At one time, around 1956 IIRC, RCA even made a "frog's retina" model using similar models - when you look at it and how it was wired and works - it really looks like a CNN made of hardware for image recognition...