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Multifunctional Utility/Logistics and Equipment

MULE is an American military unmanned ground vehicle, designed by Lockheed Martin. It is an artificial intelligence controlled combat support robot, albeit one that is larger than a humvee. There are several variants, only one of which is actually armed; the ARV-A-L light assault vehicle. This however, only acquires suggested targets on its own - a human officer has to give the decision to fire.

Most MULEs are exactly like their namesake. Pack hauliers, trucks if you will, designed to go into dangerous situations without putting a human driver at risk. Strong enough to tow a truck behind them, these robots can trundle supplies almost anywhere foot soldiers can go.

Six independently suspended wheels are treated almost like legs by the AI, allowing the robot to climb over and adjust to potholes, slopes, or building rubble whose horizontal surfaces differ by as much as a metre. Weighing in at two and a half metric tonnes, it cannot however, cross any rickety structures safely - but of course there is the 'no human driver' aspect to fall back upon should it have to.

The Carnegie Mellon AI team that won the DARPA Urban Challenge in 2007, producing 'Junior', one of a handful of robots which drove sufficient well under full automation to qualify for a California driver's license, are responsible for MULE's automation AI, meaning it too is capable of handling itself on urban roads, amongst civilian drivers, with no problem whatsoever.

Junior, winner of the 2007 DARPA urban challenge, California Driver's lisence holder, and utterly AI

Prototypes of MULE are currently being tested in Texas by the US army, with expectation to deploy by 2013.


Lockheed Awarded Contract For Centralized Controller For Unmanned Air And Ground Systems

Lockheed Martin MULE promotional PDF

Army Tests Fighting 'Bot

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DARPA Urban Challenge 2007

Staff Comments


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