Carnegie Mellon University's National Robotics Engineering Center is proud to present (in that deep voice radio promo ad sort of way) Crusher. As you can see (especially if you're a professional weight guesser), it's a 6.5-ton, six-wheeled, armor-clad robot designed to eliminate 1998 American cars to protect Mexican car dealers. Crusher has no human operator (always a mistake in sci-fi flicks). Instead, it uses a program called UPI to defeat obstacles, advance through enemy defenses, wield weapons and (if UPI includes a couple of Asimov's three laws of robotics) protect human troops. As reported by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Crusher is a turbo-diesel/electric hybrid whose batteries power motors in each wheel. Individual wheel suspension allows Crusher to roll up to 26 mph over rough terrain, successfully traversing large ditches, man-made barriers or crappy used cars. In a recent demonstration at Fort Bliss, DARPA's Stephen Welby raved about the future Army recruiting star for career-challenged fans of monster truck jams. "To understand how fast it operated in this environment, you have to understand that we were bouncing around [in a vehicle following Crusher], and I could barely walk afterwards with pain in my kidneys." (One surmounts stones, the other causes them.) CMU's NREC director of acronyms Steve Di Antonio thinks the vehicle and software have potential applications in construction, farming and mining. We're waiting for its first rap video appearance and the inevitable stretch Crusher limo.
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