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back to article US Army trials robot 'leccy-n-bandwidth war-mules

The US army remains determined to kit out all its ground troops with portable, wearable networking gear which will provide them with comms as well as an accurate idea of where everyone is. Unfortunately, when you have to generate your own wireless coverage as you go from the same kit, this means a lot of power - and this in turn …

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Silver badge

"kit out all its ground troops with portable, wearable networking gear"

supposedly so they can check their faecebook accounts or twatter their tactics?

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Silver badge

Nope

They just cyber-bully the enemy and hope they'll go home in shame or top themselves.

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Troll

Yep, This is a title no doubt about it.

Seeing as they are using one of those buggies how about a new acronym:

S.P.L.I.T.S.

Self Propelled Lockheed IT Supply.

Now if only I could get BANANA in the front......

Troll? the nearest I could get to Bingo.

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Bronze badge
Happy

Funny you should mention the Banana Splits

But doesn't that 6 wheeler rather resemble the little buggies they used to zoom about in now and then?

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Umm

Ok - this sounds like one of those Science-fiction novels where the 'inferior' enemy end up putting sugar into the fuel supply and trouncing the 'good guys'.

Do they honestly think that this is the answer? everyone knows that what the modern soldier really needs is a powered battle-suit with augmented strength, armour and the ability to call down orbital laser-strikes.

It would also mean that they could have a load of two-foot long pockets to put useful stuff into.

Everything else is just turkey-tickling.

ttfn

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Anonymous Coward

Um..

Why not spend all the dollars on finding a better power supply mechanism than batteries.. which I might add the oldest acknowledged form of battery in the format we know () is over 2000 years old.. found in Baghdahtoo :). And yes.. apparently they do work!

http://www.world-mysteries.com/sar_11.htm

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Gold badge
Boffin

AC@10:31

Actually there have been various projects to do just that some not surprisingly sponsored by DARPA.

The generic term for this is PowerMEMS as they use various kinds of fabrication methods mostly adapted from the chip industry to make small size turbo generators (as in gas turbine) and fuel cell units.

The typical target seemed to be in the 10-100W class for 24 hours with say a litre of fuel.

The prototypes *definitely* showed promise and the supply chain (1 liquid) looked fairly simple too but I don't know what happened.

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Pirate

The Luggage?

Give that thing legs, lots of them, weapons and a psychotic attitude and you'd have a dead ringer for Terry Pratchett's Luggage.

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WTF?

wireless emissions....

Isnt having a mobile wireless basestation following you around the same as pasting a big target all over your infantry?

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You'd hope

You'd hope that it uses UWB or something equally stealthy...

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Single point of failure

So if you want to take out a platoon, you just have to drop a grenade or a few rounds into the mule. For extra points hit a few of those lithium batteries and watch them burn. It's not even armoured.

That's if it doesn't fall off a cliff first, or just get stuck and slow everybody down.

And if the enemy want to know where the US boys are hiding, just look for the massive lump of steel.

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Silver badge

And it carries golf clubs, too

So when there's a lull in the shooting, the infantry can have a quick tee-off. Unless their little (apparently completely unprotected) buggy happens to take an RPG round between the wheels and then the poor soldiers won't be able to tweet their kill-ratios or update their facebook pages and will be forced to withdraw.

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Joke

Painted that bright yellowish colour...

do you think the enemy might target it?

Or are they planning on fighting exclusively in fields of corn in autumn?

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Coat

Bugler!

Sound "Charge"

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Boffin

What's the robot tech for?

Couldn't you just add a steering wheel and some seats while you're at it?

Oh, more DARPA pork? I get it.

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Gold badge

Big Red One?

Last I heard they were more usually referred to as the "Toys 'R Us" battalion these days. Something to do with being first up for all the gadgets 'n gizmos.....

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FAIL

Skip the wireless

Just have a generator on board and have all the troops hardwired to the mule for coms and power. There might be the occasional tangle, but that's the price you pay for modern kit, right? What could possibly go wrong?

This is all going to end very badly. It's the classic example of why you don't have folks who've never done the job designing tools for those in the trenches. There's no real advantage to having every individual troop kitted up with all this crap and the downsides are practically limitless. When you're supposed to be heads-up walking through Baghdad, the last thing you want is the distraction of some "land warrior" display junking up your situational awareness. In the middle of a firefight, kids are going to get killed because higher is micro-managing tactics over wireless. And when you're humping along on some 10 click patrol, having to stop three or four extra times for fresh batteries just adds that many opportunities to get hit while you're distracted by the distribution and installation of batteries into said crap.

Until every soldier is issued nuclear-powered armor that never gets tired and can't be penetrated by IEDs or small arms, the best infantry is going to be a set of well-trained guys with rifles, using eyeball mk1 to see targets, all within yelling/signaling distance of each other.

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Silver badge
Unhappy

What happened to "Dumb, Simple"?

A single 50 mm bullet could destroy their little wheelie and then all the electronic toys will be useless.

Batteries and fuel have been major challenges for Armies for years, these systems are simply increasing vulnerabilities. Already today's soldiers are carrying around a 100 pounds of equipment so there is not much more even a well exercised soldier can carry.

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Flame

Nothing could possibly go w0rNg - could it?

«The US army remains determined to kit out all its ground troops with portable, wearable networking gear which will provide them with comms as well as an accurate idea of where everyone is.»

Enemy kills or captures one soldier, and then *they* know where everyone is. Insurgents have wreaked all sorts of havoc with captured conventional gear, this just ups the ante.

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Bronze badge
Troll

That will be handy

When "Civil War II - this time its personal" breaks out.

My money's on Snork.

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And when they don't work well...

The officers will appropriate the SMSSes to haul their golf clubs around the course.

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Gold badge
Joke

I think it looks cute

The front in particular looks like it's got a sort of smiley face on it.

I wouldn't want to rely on it however.

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Gold badge

I have a dumb question:

If you are putting a roving mobile base station into the field, presumably with WAN and SAT links, what is the point of the infantry? Could you not simply create robot walkers with guns that are remotely operated? I mean, if they need juice, they just trundle on over to the roving base station. If energy requirements become higher than it's battery load can handle, nothing prevents anyone for tearing all the batteries out an replacing it with a genny and a shitload of fuel.

Why are we bothering with trying to “equip” meatware anyways? It absolutely can not be that hard to create a death mech. Hell, take it a step farther. Why bother with the roving base station at all? Just make the Mech 15 feet tall and two lanes wide. (65 tons of American pride!) At that size, it ought to be able to house it’s own fuel, genny, mobile comns etc. Put a reasonable weapons load out on it and ensure it’s ROV-capable.

But wait! Then it’s a gigantic target! Well the way to solve that is obviously to make it fly. So we need some sort of FLYING DEATH ROBOT. Oh wait…we have those. SO what do we need dudes on the ground for?

Oh yeah. Stealth, silence, recon and dealing with other human beings affected by the FLYING DEATH ROBOTS. I don’t see how a gigantic battery on wheels remotely helps accomplish any of those. It seems to me that for every one of these things in the field, the grunts around going to be wishing they had another UAV.

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Grenade

Just a second...

How about building something a little bigger?

Then the soldiers could ride on it and not have to walk you could call it a Troop Rolling Utility Conveyance or TRUC for short.

This TRUC could carry anything a solder might need.

Opps, wait a second, someone might shoot at it. Better put on some armor... Oh, and maybe a gun or two for fire support.

Now if only the military had such a vehicle....

You could call it a Troop Armored Nasty Killer or ...

Cracked by Cracku

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Silver badge
Flame

5 lb of batteries/squaddie/day?

Dump the Pentiums, switch to ARM.

<--- Fire because these must get pretty hot!

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FAIL

lessons learnt or maybe not

"Also, at the operational and tactical level, the U.S. put too much dependence on technology and firepower. Our operational art and the accompanying tactics, along with our major weapon systems, were more appropriate to fighting the Soviets in Europe than they were to insurgents and light infantry in the jungles of Asia. Our tendency to rely on firepower as a kind of substitute for strategy simply exacerbated the situation, in the end making it seem as if a cruel and unusual technology had been unleashed on a peaceful and peace-loving people."

from "lessons learned from the Vietnam War" by Earl H. Tilford

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kiss

mount the robots on top of the mules making them bionic mules that carry a kick. Mobility a much longer battery life even a munitions storage making long belts for different rounds.armour up the mules with nano fibres now that they can now weave larger dimension of some really light weight and strong armour, of course backed up with the a defence system. Designed to be dropped off in areas acting like reconnoitre units, that can take out any target of opportunity.

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