'Mission possible' for rock-climbing unmanned vehicle

Unmanned, off-road ground vehicle have been developed that can hit speeds of 80 mph plus and help plan their own military missions

A full-sized, unmanned ground vehicle, based on a Land Rover – that climbs rocks and stairs – has been developed for military and hazardous-environment civilian use.

Capable of speeds of more than 80 mph on level ground, it builds on an earlier hybrid drive machine that can learn about its performance to help plan missions and can communicate this information to other, similar machines.

It was only in Eureka’s June edition that the intense amount of development work in Germany on autonomous mobile robots, mainly for manufacturing applications, was revealed. The UK-developed Mace-1 and Mace-2, on the other hand, are primarily aimed at defence applications, although they do have civilian uses as well.

The vehicles were developed at the Motor Industry Research Association (Mira) and were showcased recently at DVD 2008, regarded as one of the most important events in the defence equipment calendar.

Tom Shelley

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