Military Review

Walking trucks for the American army

34

Walking Truck from General Electric. Source: wikimedia.org


Vietnam as a challenge


The United States, embroiled in wars in Southeast Asia, has learned at least two lessons. The first is to win in such conditions without using weapons mass destruction cannot be won. And the second lesson is that extremely difficult terrain requires extraordinary solutions. Wheeled and even tracked vehicles in the jungles of Vietnam were far from always suitable, and this, in turn, limited the mobility of the army. Engineering thought, coupled with an almost unlimited military budget, gave birth to real monsters in the United States. Such as LeTourneau's Transphibian Tactical Crusher - a giant 95 ton tractor built in just two copies in 1967. The machine in Vietnam, like a combine, grinded trees, bushes, leveled hummocks, and created a more or less level road for infantry and traditional equipment. However, the difficulties with the transportation of the "crusher" put an end to the further development of the idea. A more elegant solution was required. And they found it in bionics, that is, in imitation of natural "engineering" solutions. The idea of ​​scaling the locomotion of walking movement to the Pentagon's transport equipment was a very good idea. It was supposed to use a pedipulator or a mechanical analogue of a human (animal) limb as a mover. And this is not without reason - millions of years of evolution have shown that it is precisely this option of moving over a complex surface that is most effective. Where a wheel or a caterpillar has to overcome an obstacle, the pedipulator will simply step over it. True, on a flat and solid road, all the advantages of a walker melted away - cars and Tanks moved much faster and spent less energy on it. But the Americans in Vietnam needed a walking technique for extreme off-road conditions, so they were ready to put up with low speed.

Walking trucks for the American army
Army Landwalker 1964 / Source: wikimedia.org

One of the first models, albeit painted on a poster, was the 1964 Army Landwalker, presented at the World's Fair in New York. The engineers' imagination ran wild - they equipped the hut on four legs with two manipulators, apparently for the evacuation of the wounded. However, such a technique did not have real prospects, simply because the technical possibilities of implementation were absent in principle. The developments obtained earlier in a special laboratory of the famous Detroit arsenal showed not the most promising prospects for pedipulators. At the same time, the American army had a demand for extremely passable vehicles, and this had to be reckoned with.

Ralph Mosher and his trucks


General Electric (GE) engineer Ralph Mosher can be considered one of the pioneers of military robotics. Almost everything that we now see in conceptual prototypes and working models in the 60s and 70s was implemented by Mosher. Of course, with varying degrees of success. In the mid-50s, under his leadership, the first prototypes of remotely controlled manipulators were created. The work was carried out under the auspices of the GE Department of Nuclear Power Plants. The machines were supposed to replace humans in the territory of radioactive contamination or simply in the work with hazardous substances. Mosher managed to create surprisingly sensitive manipulators for his time. So, in 1956, his Yes-Man Teleoperator robot could help a girl put on / take off her coat. Naturally, there was no question of any automation - the system was remotely controlled by the operator. The engineer was able to equip his development with a force feedback system, which made it possible to more accurately control the manipulator. A couple of years later - in 1958 - Mosher will create a real industrial GE Handyman with several degrees of freedom. The device was described with the following epithets:
"A pair of clawed hands, sensitive enough to pack eggs, strong enough to crush golf balls, and nimble enough to light a match."




Yes-Man Teleoperator. Source: cyberneticzoo.com









GE Handyman. Source: cyberneticzoo.com

In 1964, the designer offered everyone interested and, above all, the American military, the concept of a two-legged transporter, the place of which was, most likely, only in a science fiction film. The general name GE Pedipulator hid a whole family of sketches, one of which became a real model. The bipedal mechanical creature, very similar to the house of Baba Yaga, with a height of 5,5 meters, was only a declaration of the author's intentions - the device lacked a motor and transmission. With this, the iron giant could not perform any useful work, except for moving one or two people off-road. The military did not like the idea. Firstly, the device turned out to be very noticeable. Secondly, it was potentially very unstable - there was no way to create a progressive stabilization system at that time. And, thirdly, the lack of a cargo platform seriously limited the military functionality of the Mosher vehicle. Even two manipulators, which the engineer proposed to integrate into the structure, did not help, which made the apparatus look like a predatory dinosaur. Interestingly, in the Soviet Union, futurists also allowed themselves to get carried away with bipedal pedipulators - in 1974, in one of the popular scientific magazines (presumably "Tekhnika Molodoi"), an image of a machine appeared that looked very similar to Mosher's dead-end concepts. In the Soviet interpretation, motion control was carried out through a neural interface.


Soviet fantasies about bipedal robots. Source: cyberneticzoo.com






Thus, Mosher saw a solution to the problem of the patency of military vehicles. Source: cyberneticzoo.com

The experience with two-legged walking machines was incorporated into the development of the Walking Truck vehicle in 1969. The development still has a couple of several names - Cybernetic Anthropomorphous Machine and Quadruped Transporter. With a great degree of confidence, the car is called the grandfather of the modern Spot robot dog from Boston Dynamics. The Mosher project received extensive funding from DARPA and TARDEC (US Army Armored Directorate). By the way, the military themselves were not able to bring to mind their own project of a walking truck under the long name - ATAC 4-legged vehicle. The project did not advance further than primitive wooden models, and it was decided to focus efforts on the idea of ​​Mosher. He suggested moving the driver's cab to the center of the truck's base, leaving little room for the cargo platform. However, this time it came to developing a working prototype.




The US military has also been working on a walking truck. It didn't work out very well. Source: cyberneticzoo.com

The Walking Truck was a 1,3 tonne four-legged transporter capable of carrying approximately 270 kg of payload along with the operator. The power plant was a 90-horsepower gasoline engine, which theoretically was supposed to accelerate the car to 55 km / h. But this is in theory, but in practice it was limited to 8 km / h. Even this speed was achieved with great reservations. It's all about the hydraulic system, requiring at least 250 liters of oil, which simply had nowhere to place, so the truck moved on a leash from several oil hoses. And the pressure in the "hydraulics" varied from 163 to 220 atmospheres.
















Walking Truck at various stages of development. Source: cyberneticzoo.com

There were also difficulties with the stability of the 4,5-meter iron mule. When Mosher's car was taken out for a walk in the fresh air, it was equipped with anti-rollover bars. This, of course, did not add any maneuverability or carrying capacity to the truck.

But the greatest difficulties awaited the operator of this amazing four-legged machine. A person had to simultaneously manipulate all limbs in order to simply put the foot of the Walking Truck on a step. At the same time, the iron horse constantly vibrated, rustled, staggered, threatening to overturn. In general, after half an hour of such work, the operator's vestibular apparatus failed.

All these difficulties were started only in order to freely walk on shallow water bodies, push light jeeps out of the mud and climb steep bumps with varying success (if the Walking Truck does not turn over). As a result, the Pentagon, assessing the potential for creating iron horses, refused further funding. And the civilian sector did not need such delights at all.
Now a unique example of a walking truck can be found in the exposition of the American Museum of Military Transport.
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  1. Vladimir_2U
    Vladimir_2U 8 December 2021 05: 32
    +12
    It looks like the loader from "Aliens" was more realistic than all these handicrafts. lol
    1. Uncle lee
      Uncle lee 8 December 2021 05: 50
      +12
      The magazine "Tekhnika-Molozhi" is straightforward for 50 years ... what
      1. The leader of the Redskins
        The leader of the Redskins 8 December 2021 07: 25
        +7
        Join.
        The illustrations gave off something so childish. Certainly, I saw some of them as a child. Maybe in my father’s magazines? "Technology for Youth" or "Science and Life"?
        Thanks to the author. Informative.
        1. mat-vey
          mat-vey 8 December 2021 17: 25
          +1
          Even in "Young Technician" there were such articles ...
      2. Ashes of Claes
        Ashes of Claes 8 December 2021 14: 33
        +7
        Quote: Uncle Lee
        The magazine "Tekhnika-Molozhi" is straightforward for 50 years ..

        so the cover of TM) Why did the author cut the bottom - it's not clear.
        1. Ashes of Claes
          Ashes of Claes 8 December 2021 14: 45
          +8
          in, by the way, another one:

          ))
      3. Aviator_
        Aviator_ 8 December 2021 21: 44
        +2
        Quite right, This is "Youth Technique", but not the 50s, but the beginning of the 70s. Artist Robert Avotin.
    2. Lech from Android.
      Lech from Android. 8 December 2021 05: 51
      +7
      Lucas smacks of Star Wars ... what progress has come ... and then put a stretch with a land mine and no legs ... will not run far.
      But the fantasies of the inventors can be envied ... to the feet made by nature in an evolutionary way, they really are still oh, how far away.
      There is no better creator than nature itself.
      1. Crowe
        Crowe 8 December 2021 06: 02
        +13
        But the fantasies of inventors can be envied ...
        Once upon a time people thought that a person could never fly ..
        At first, the new theory is proclaimed absurd. Then they accept it, but they say that it does not represent anything special and is as clear as day. Finally, she is recognized as so important that her former opponents begin to claim that they themselves discovered it. William james
        1. Lech from Android.
          Lech from Android. 8 December 2021 06: 16
          +3
          Thought becomes a material force when it takes over the masses.
          If all the destructive energy of mankind were to be directed to creative deeds, we would have long ago mastered the Moon and Mars ... but alas, the armed struggle for a better place in the sun retards the development of mankind ... a small handful of people enjoy all the benefits of civilization ... the rest is destined for the fate of a half-impoverished existence ... they can only dream.
      2. Kote Pan Kokhanka
        Kote Pan Kokhanka 8 December 2021 12: 07
        +5
        It was supposed to use a pedipulator or a mechanical analogue of a human (animal) limb as a mover. And this is not without reason - millions of years of evolution have shown that it is precisely this option of moving over a complex surface that is most effective.

        I don’t know, as a neophyte, I think that the most effective move for military needs is the analogue of the scales of a snake or a worm.
        Any "paw" will always be a high target with a high specific ground pressure. The "crawler" is devoid of these shortcomings, but in essence it represents the movement itself, which implies insane complexity.
        So, perhaps, it is more effective to create an exoskeleton for a soldier to carry everything with him. And the rest should be delivered by air using "drones", and in the dimensions of a "backpack", or individual carriers of ammunition (similar to human or canine dimensions).
        Well, somewhere like that.
        And yes, thanks to Eugene for the raised topic, although to be honest I would like to read something from the history of motor transport, and not these miraculous Yudo "mehvars".
        1. Evgeny Fedorov
          8 December 2021 12: 20
          +10
          Vladislav, when I came across Walking Truck on the Internet, I immediately decided that VO readers should certainly learn about this car. The 50-60s were generally rich in such "innovations". The timing was interesting. Now, there is nothing of the kind worthy of attention. And about the history of military vehicles will certainly be.
          1. Kote Pan Kokhanka
            Kote Pan Kokhanka 8 December 2021 14: 49
            +3
            And about the history of military vehicles will certainly be.

            Thank you very much from the bottom of my heart!
        2. ja-ja-vw
          ja-ja-vw 8 December 2021 18: 28
          -1
          Crawling, scaly ones have always become prey for flying ones.
          Shl. + Review "below the plinth"
          1. Kote Pan Kokhanka
            Kote Pan Kokhanka 8 December 2021 19: 33
            0
            Quote: ja-ja-vw
            Crawling, scaly ones have always become prey for flying ones.
            Shl. + Review "below the plinth"

            Read the article, we are talking about a military "truck" for extreme conditions. His task is to deliver the cargo from point "A" to point "B". Best unmanned and unobtrusive.
            1. ja-ja-vw
              ja-ja-vw 8 December 2021 22: 40
              -1
              I read
              I replied not to the article, but to
              , as a neophyte, I think that the most effective for military needs [moving is an analogue of snake or worm scales


              Best drone and imperceptibly

              The key is underlined.
              "Cargo" of 220 kg certainly impressed, for many $ million.
              And they don't need to "get" the cargo whole?
              And for scaly ones with a view "right up to the radio horizon line"?
              However: I do not insist, scaly, so scaly.
    3. Ashes of Claes
      Ashes of Claes 8 December 2021 14: 30
      +5
      Quote: Vladimir_2U
      It looks like the loader from "Aliens" was more realistic than all these handicrafts. lol

      Exactly, I immediately recall the scene of how Helen Ripley bought the queen of aliens. yes
  2. Free wind
    Free wind 8 December 2021 06: 43
    +6
    We played the same with this. They wanted to make a six-legged, sort of like a pair of hydraulic legs made and tested.
  3. Alien From
    Alien From 8 December 2021 10: 29
    +4
    Thanks to the author! I always enjoy studying his materials. hi
  4. ycuce234-san
    ycuce234-san 8 December 2021 10: 42
    +3
    All these difficulties were started only in order to freely walk on shallow water bodies, push light jeeps out of the mud and climb steep bumps with varying success (if the Walking Truck does not turn over). As a result, the Pentagon, assessing the potential for creating iron horses, refused further funding. And the civilian sector did not need such delights at all.
    Now a unique example of a walking truck can be found in the exposition of the American Museum of Military Transport.


    In fact, Vietnam is a jungle swamp, which means that such a technique for the Pentagon could have been easier to do (using the technologies of that time). There are pontoon-caterpillar excavators and, by analogy, it is possible to make "sea-river-swamp" bog conveyors on pontoon chassis filled with polyurethane foam. Replace the bucket with a tree cutter and a dozer blade for bushes. There is also such a technique as augers.



    1. ja-ja-vw
      ja-ja-vw 8 December 2021 18: 30
      -1
      There are completely different swamps, not ours. And vegetation. From the word at all.
      Visit Vietnam: they make excursions on the TRAIL. Step aside: you freak out
      1. ycuce234-san
        ycuce234-san 8 December 2021 19: 37
        0
        They look like a specific biotope "mangrove jungle" there. That is, dense forests grow in swamps (and not bryozoans), only that true mangroves grow in semi-salty water. Therefore, it is necessary to go there on caterpillar pontoons and with a hydraulic manipulator with hydraulic shears for felling trees. You need a swamp bulldozer. It is also possible on the auger.
        But it is better to have a bulldozer on a floating auger chassis with a high edge of the auger due to the need for good traction with the soil, and trucks on tracked pontoons. In general, amphibious caterpillar tracks were successfully used there and are still used in the form of amphibious tanks.
        1. ja-ja-vw
          ja-ja-vw 8 December 2021 22: 42
          0
          Others.
          If it were so, they would not have invented step-steps.
          The Americans of WW2 joint stock company had a lot of experience, they wrote themselves: the bulldozer won the war with Japan.
          Quickly preparing la gdp and navy docks while they hopped around the islands.
          1. ycuce234-san
            ycuce234-san 8 December 2021 23: 11
            0
            Well, it didn't cost them anything to go back to more realistic options. The fact that the walker was still unsuitable for swamps was understood very quickly.
            Today walkers already perform well in dry forests and on steep slopes.
  5. Zaurbek
    Zaurbek 8 December 2021 13: 15
    +2
    And we see many solutions now in cars from Boston Dinamex.
  6. Ashes of Claes
    Ashes of Claes 8 December 2021 15: 32
    +4
    Wheeled and even tracked vehicles in the jungles of Vietnam did not always fit ... A more elegant solution was required.

    it's true. And the Vietcong decided that the elephant in the jungle is quite graceful))
  7. Illanatol
    Illanatol 9 December 2021 08: 49
    +1
    "The Empire Strikes Back!"
    I was wondering who Lucas was mocking in his "Star" saga. It is now clear.
    1. Nexcom
      Nexcom 9 December 2021 12: 21
      0
      I also have associations with the Ymper Shagohod. smile
      IMHO, this is not Lucas joking, it is Yankesian design engineers who seem to draw their inspiration from there. So we are waiting for the Imperial Space Cruiser and the Death Star soon. lol
  8. Tochilka
    Tochilka 10 December 2021 06: 19
    0
    The article, photos, comments are great! It's a pleasure to read. Thanks to the author.