Hail your new 700-ton robot (dump truck) overlord


If you're afraid of robots, finding out that a group from Carnegie Mellon University is teaming up with Caterpillar to make a 700-ton robotic monster probably isn't such a pleasant thought. The monster in question is actually just a dump truck, but a big one: it's capable of moving a load of 240 tons. Automating it isn't as simple as slapping in previously developed robotic steering methods and sending the truck off on its own. Special care has to be taken to program the machine to understand its size and maneuverability. If the dump truck bumped into something — as many robots harmlessly do to find their way — that something would probably be demolished.

Wired's David Axe reports that, with a machine as big as this, trust becomes a big issue. Tests with soldiers escorting automated convoy trucks found the troops freaked out, and I could easily imagine a construction crew being equally unnerved by a 700-ton dump truck rolling toward them.

Carnegie Mellon University, via Wired Danger Room