GUSS: An off-road golf cart for troop support

The military's latest automated vehicle is an off-road combat golf cart. No, really.

Torc Technologies

By 2015, the government wants 30 percent of all military vehicles to be unmanned. With advances in AI and lightweight, long-lasting computer systems, this goal isn't as sci-fi as it sounds. We've covered the coming of these automated battle machines before, and now there's a new one being tested by the U.S. Marines.

Meet GUSS, the Ground Unmanned Support Surrogate. It's basically an autonomous off-road golf cart used for troop support. It can carry heavy loads a squad might need or quickly evacuate injured soldiers back to base on its own. It's somewhat similar to iRobot's R-Gator.

The unmanned vehicle can carry up to 1,800 pounds; move at a pace roughly equivalent to a troop's walking speed (about 5 mph); and identify its environment with an array of sensors and use the data to navigate on its own without input. It even has seatbelts, as seen in the video below, so you can enjoy a lift if you get lazy. Not that a Marine would ever do that. It's operated via a handheld control unit called WaySight.

GUSS was developed by Virginia Tech engineering students using products from TORC Technologies, a company that specializes in unmanned military vehicles. It's being tested now by the Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory, and four of the vehicles will head to Hawaii to participate in Rim of the Pacific (Rimpac) war games this month.

If the brass are impressed, we can expect these vehicles to start rolling into battle sometime in the next couple of years. And, a couple years after that, its descendants will travel through time looking for Sarah Connor.

About the author

    With more than 15 years experience testing hardware (and being obsessed with it), Crave freelance writer Matt Hickey can tell the good gadgets from the great. He also has a keen eye for future technology trends. Matt has blogged for publications including TechCrunch, CrunchGear, and most recently, Gizmodo. Matt is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not an employee of CBS Interactive. E-mail Matt.


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