This is the week of the robot-controlled vehicle. Sometimes, it works wonderfully. And sometimesthat looks just like it.
Still, the U.S. Army is undeterred, because a press release from Lockheed Martin declares that four Squad Mission Support System robo-jeeps are being dispatched to Afghanistan.
The SMSS is, so Lockheed Martin says, the biggest unmanned vehicle (11 feet long) ever to be deployed with the U.S. Army.
In essence, the SMSS is one vast unmanned mule. It can carry half a ton of supplies for up to 125 miles, according to Defense Tech. It can also ferry casualties and even act as a power station for soldiers.
There are three forms of operation: remote control, tele-operation or manual control. And though in the future the SMSS may be armed, one of the most important potential uses currently is to resupply bases, without having to take the risk of manned convoys or, indeed, airlifting.
Lockheed Martin says it will continue to monitor the SMSS' performance, but believes it is ready for this step into combat.
"The Army has tested the system's capabilities in three domestic user assessments, and SMSS has been deemed ready to deploy," said Scott Greene, vice president of ground vehicles in Lockheed Martin's Missiles and Fire Control business.
Let's hope the design hasn't transgressed any of Google's self-driving patents.