US Army adopts new breed of robotic battle vehicles

Lockheed-Martin-SMSS-Squad Mission Support System

As part of its ongoing quest to transform into a more modern fighting force, the US Army has purchased a new line of autonomous vehicles, which will soon aid soldiers in Afghanistan.

Created by Lockheed Martin, the Squad Mission Support System (SMSS) is “the largest autonomous vehicle to ever be deployed with infantry,” said Lockheed in announcement released today. The SMSS is 11 feet long (about one foot shorter than a Mini Cooper), and is capable of carrying up to half a ton of equipment, a feature that will help ease the often heavy loads of soldiers on the ground.

“SMSS is the result of more than a decade of robotic technology development, and we welcome the opportunity to demonstrate this capability in theater, where it can have an immediate impact at the squad level,” said Scott Green, vice president of ground vehicles in Lockheed Martin’s Missiles and Fire Control business, in a statement. “The Army has tested the system’s capabilities in three domestic user assessments, and SMSS has been deemed ready to deploy.”

On top of its load-carrying abilities, the SMSS also has a remote range of up to 125 miles, and can run in three different control modes: supervised autonomy, tele-operation or manually driven. Once deployed, the SMSS uses GPS to navigate on its own, as well as onboard sensors that can “lock on and follow any person by recognizing their digital 3-D profile.”

The SMSS will now undergo three more months of testing in Afghanistan, as part of the Army’s Military Utility Assessment, which determine how well the SMSS works in on an actual battlefield. Testing will reportedly begin later this year, after additional evaluations and training for the vehicle.

In addition, the SMSS has been selected to further test its combat abilities in the Army’s Expeditionary Warrior Experiment Spiral G, which takes place in November. There, the SMSS will be tested to evaluate “its ability to field a reconnaissance, surveillance and target acquisition mission equipment package.”

Of course, the SMSS is far from the first robot to be employed by America’s military. According to Wikipedia, military robots date back to WWII. Today, the US military uses a wide variety of robots, including a variety of anti-IED bots, and more than 7000 aerial drones.

Product Review

Step aside, Sonos: Riva's Concert is the best smart speaker you can buy

The Riva Concert series speaker is a fantastic, small-profile smart speaker with Alexa integration, truly excellent sound, and great looks, making it the perfect addition to your kitchen, living room, or bedroom.

Trash at 'Super Smash Bros. Ultimate'? Use this guide to train up and get good

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is the biggest game in the entire series, and it can be overwhelming for newcomers not used to the universe-colliding fighting game. Here's what you need to know when you're starting.

LM Industries’ autonomous shuttles head to Phoenix, Sacramento campuses

LM Industries will deploy Olli low-speed autonomous shuttles at school campuses in Arizona and California as part of its ongoing "fleet challenge," which asks local groups to propose uses for autonomous vehicles.
Product Review

‘Just Cause 4’ is mindless fun that leaves little room for much else

Just Cause 4 revels in explosions and over-the-top action, but its world feels empty and hollow. With few new ideas and a stale open world, it's a fun but shallow piece of escapism.
Emerging Tech

With this robotic garage, retrieving your car is like using a vending machine

Remembering where we parked our cars can be a real pain. But what if our cars came to find us, rather than the other way around? A new automated robot parking valet system aims to help.

Best Products of 2018

Our reception desk has so many brown boxes stacked up, it looks like a loading dock. We’re on a first-name basis with the UPS guy. We get new dishwashers more frequently than most people get new shoes. What we’re trying to say is: We…
Emerging Tech

A lidar-equipped truck knows exactly how much de-icer to apply on roads

Lidar is best known as the laser-based technology that helps self-driving cars sense their surroundings. But the city of Knoxville has another, more seasonal use for it: De-icing roads.
Emerging Tech

This unusual nature-inspired robot is equally at home on land or in the water

This intriguing, nature-inspired robot may look unusual, but it's impressively capable of moving on both land and water without problem. Heck, it can even travel on ice if necessary.
Emerging Tech

This cryptocurrency wallet for kids isn’t nearly as stupid as it sounds

So you’ve taught your 6-year-old child to read, write, and play nice with others. What’s next? Give them a base understanding of cryptocurrency, of course. This Kickstarter aims to help.
Emerging Tech

Light, speed: Lighting kit for DJI Mavic 2 lets you fly and film in the dark

Lume Cube, maker of small battery-powered LED lights for mobile photography, has announced a new lighting kit built specifically for the DJI Mavic 2 -- the first of its kind. Already our favorite drone, this makes the Mavic 2 even better.
Emerging Tech

Prepare for liftoff: Here are all the important upcoming SpaceX rocket launches

From ISS resupply missions to a host of communication and scientific satellite launches, SpaceX has a busy year ahead. Here's a rundown of some of the company's most important missions slated for the next year.
Emerging Tech

Virgin Galactic’s latest test flight takes it to the edge of space

Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic has successfully carried out its fourth powered flight in Mojave, California. It was the company's most ambitious test flight yet -- and bodes well for the future.
Emerging Tech

We’re going to the Red Planet! All the past, present, and future missions to Mars

SpaceX isn't the only organization pining to visit the Red Planet. Here's a detailed list of all operational and planned missions to Mars, along with explanations of their objectives, spacecraft details, and mission proposals.
Emerging Tech

There’s a giant EMP blaster in New Mexico. Don’t worry, it’s here to protect us

An electromagnetic pulse has the potential to disable virtually all electronics within a large area. To help protect against such a threat is a new, friendly EMP emitter. Here's how it works.