Quadruped military vehicles from back in the day

walking_truck

While Boston Dynamics’ Big Dog is pretty impressive, check out this video of the US Army’s first attempt at a quadruped vehicle. Created in the early 1960s with the help of GE, this Army experiment was the first successful attempt of replicating a four-legged animal with a mechanical machine.

This “Walking Truck” was driven by a single operator who moved each of the vehicle’s legs using force-feedback hydraulic levers. Choreographing the machine’s movement was quite complicated, and during testing the Army found that the operator needed a mental break after only 15 minutes of use. As you can see in the video, the vehicle flexes some serious muscle. It kicks a Jeep out of its way with little effort, but it is still able to gently step on a light bulb without breaking it, due to the level of tactile feedback received by the operator.

If it weren’t for government budget cuts, we could be living out [George Lucas’] dream of AT-AT based combat right this minute!

[via Gizmodo]

Comments

  1. Stephen says:

    This is an amazing example of old technology doing very complicated mechanical movements!

    Now if only this were an exoskeleton instead!

  2. K!P says:

    jam in some walking routines and a few powerfull pc’s and retry the concept! :)

  3. Mooseral says:

    GE has how many more crazy exoskeleton projects in their closet?

  4. JeremyC says:

    That is really cool. Anyone remember that movie Robot Jox?

  5. Jimmy says:

    The light bulb demo is awesome. It looks cool, and proves nothing. Since the light bulb is on a pillow, you don’t need any tactile feedback — the operator just needs to visually check that the light bulb isn’t pushed too far into the pillow. The quad would be cool today let alone 1960, but that particular ‘demo’ is a bit disingenuous.

  6. caleb says:

    interesting. i agree, the lightbulb thing is just a gimmick. but that aside, i bet they didnt goto radio shack for their parts :-)

  7. Hackerspacer says:

    This shows that the mechanical parts and functionality were there all the way back in the 1960’s but the microcontroller controls needed another 50 years (!) to catch up.

  8. j_at_chaperon says:

    Give me a long cable and a spaceship and I make it fall !

  9. bzroom says:

    at first i was all:

    but then i:

    I remember this robot from my early days of research. like when i was 10, building lego.

    CLASSIC Remember the big ATV APC with tri-star wheels? Can’t seem to find a picture of it.

  10. bzroom says:
  11. Gary says:

    I have actually seen this. It is at the transportation museum in Fort Eustis Va

  12. BlueCoder says:

    The first makes me think about the possibility of taking a small animal or insect and using it’s brain to operate the thing most of the time and allowing a human to override for specific tasks. And of course that would have to bring up ethical considerations. A cockroach brain should certainly be able to operate such simple lets with feedback.

    The second video is eerie, the legs look like they are moving so naturally.

  13. RexOfRome says:

    One RPG and that would be a pile of scrap. What were they thinking?

  14. David says:

    RPG’s do not fly straight. Also one RPG and just about every vehicle is done for.

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