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Legged Mechs will never ever be more efficient then tanks

  1. Oct 20, 2006 #1
    Assuming I'm right - Legged Mechs will never ever be more efficient then tanks or any other tracked/wheeled vehicle.

    I tried explaining to my friend that legs will always be too expensive and too unmenuverable and slow and heavy to ever be used for the slight benefits of being able to climb up a mountain or something.

    What is the physics involved in building such a monstrosity, maybe then I can show him it isn't feasible.


    Don't tell me I'm wrong :P.

    ~Gelsamel
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 20, 2006 #2

    brewnog

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    There's no fundamental reason why mechanical walkers can't be used. They could potentially be more versatile for tricky terrain, minefields, and other special applications. They're just more difficult to make. There's no reason why they're inherently unmaneueverable or slow or heavy, the engineering is just more difficult than making something with wheels or tracks. Cost is rarely a limiting factor with military R&D budgets.

    As for the reason we don't use them, I suspect the benefits are not very great, and I doubt you can solve a problem with a walking machine that you can't with a tank/helicopter/armoured vehicle/foot soldier etc.
     
  4. Oct 20, 2006 #3

    Danger

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    Check this out. You might want to turn down the volume for the video; it's really irritating.
    http://www.gizmag.com/go/5305/
     
  5. Oct 20, 2006 #4
    Right, my point was that they're not efficient in comparison to what could be made in it's stead.
     
  6. Oct 21, 2006 #5
    I agree 100% brewnog. Necessity is the mother of invention and right now there is no specific need for large legged walkers. The current equipment that we have is efficient and works. Another big reason that just popped in my head would be a matter of target size. Most military vehicles are relatively low to the ground which presents a harder target. A three story tall mech would be just that... a three story tall vehicle walking around. i.e; a BIG target.

    Armor would also be a big player. You couldn't have a tall, massive object out in the battlefield without lots of thick armor plating... and that adds up weight quickly. You also have to take into consideration the mech being hit by large impactors that could easily knock it off balance like rockets or missles. You can't knock a tank down.
     
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2006
  7. Oct 21, 2006 #6

    Danger

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    Oh, I see... you guys are talking about large man-carrying vehicles. For now, that really isn't practical. The machine that I linked to, however, is quite viable as an adjunct for carrying equipment, doing surveillance, etc.. It's like a steel pack mule. I can foresee that with new technology, larger walkers could be faster and more efficient than tracked vehicles. The main advantage, I believe, is in versatility. I agree with Brewski that there are other purpose-designed machines that are perfectly suited for what they do; a walker, however, could replace almost all of them. (Not aircraft, of course, but anything with wheels, tracks, or rails.)
     
  8. Oct 21, 2006 #7

    LURCH

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    Danger, I thought your link was suposed to be a refference to the item # "3)" (Land Walker") on that page. That is a "mech", in the traditional sfi-fi usage of the term.
     
  9. Oct 21, 2006 #8

    Danger

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    No. I saw the land-walker, and wasn't terribly impressed. My link was to the actual article on that page about Big Dog, the quadraped robot, and specifically the attached video. That thing is awesome. It seems so life-like that I kept expecting it to hoist its leg beside a fire hydrant.
     
  10. Oct 21, 2006 #9
    That thing was awesome, I love how it compensates for being kicked.
     
  11. Oct 21, 2006 #10

    Danger

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    Yeah. That recapture of balance looks almost exactly like a new foal or fawn learning to walk. (Come to think of it, it looks so much like it that I wonder if they might have modelled that to make their stabilization software. Except for one set of knees being reversed.)
     
  12. Oct 22, 2006 #11

    LURCH

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    Pretty dang cool, alright! But, is it a robot? The article keeps referring to it as a robot, but in one of the clips I'm pretty sure I see a guy with a radio controller driving the thing, which makes ti an ROV, and not a robot at all.

    This may seem like nit-picking, but a robot is a very specific thing. Lately, I've been hearing of Preditor drones and Talon bomb-disposal units referred to as "robots", and I think it gives the general public a false idea as to where the state of robotic technology currently lies. On that same link (Item # 13) there is a referrence to SWORDS as a "gun-toting robotic combat soldiers..." when the article goes on to explain quite clearly that, "...the weaponised Talon is not autonomous, being under the direct control of a soldier watching from up to a mile away...".

    Just a little pet-peave of mine. Especially since that same sorce is the one refferring to the BigDog as a "robot", and they give no way of telling if it really is or not.
     
  13. Oct 22, 2006 #12

    Danger

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    I think that it's just a loose application of terminology. There are several different levels of robots. Originally, the term simply meant 'worker' or 'slave' or something similar in Czech.
    An assembly line machine, such as a welder, is not the least bit autonomous, but is still called a robot. If Big Dog at some stage is pre-programmed with a series of manoeuvres, such as following an obstacle course, then it would be in the same category.
    You're correct about seeing a remote control, and in a couple of instances it's tethered, but I got the impression that the 'handler' merely inputs a steering and speed command and lets the machine figure out how to accomplish it. The balance system certainly reacts so quickly that it has to be an on-board response rather than someone externally moving the legs. I guess that in that regard, it would be in the same sort of category as a Segway or a fly-by-computer plane such as JSF.
     
  14. Oct 23, 2006 #13

    LURCH

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    Just saw a special on robots on the Hysteria Channel, they talked about the BigDog project and compard it to DARPA's "Grand Challenge" Saying that the machine would utilize the terain scanning and GPS technologies that competition was advancing.

    Robot, definitely.
     
  15. Oct 25, 2006 #14
    'Mechs' like the one danger showed us are going to be usefull, the the kind you guys are talking about wont be useful anytime in the near future.

    Maybe some time in the future when we need some kind of rock climbing/spelunking war robot then it may go into more serious development but for now its uses are limited.

    8 legged research mechs are already starting to be developed for volcoano/underwater research =]
     
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