Soon this cute little six wheeler will be following U.S. infantry troops around like a lost puppy. It’s a Lockheed Martin Squad Mission Support System (SMSS) autonomous vehicle and it’s headed to Afghanistan for testing.
The SMSS is like an armored Argo with a brain. The little all-terrain vehicle is packed with million-dollar sensors and computers. It can navigate terrain on its own, follow a pre-defined path or follow a designated soldier. It can also be controlled by a wireless touch screen panel. It runs on some unspecified combustible, probably diesel or propane. The robot was designed and built to haul soldiers’ gear in the field.
Why not just use a Hummer? Turns out Hummers are big, loud targets. The SMSS is relatively tiny (just 11 feet long) and is packed with insulation and noise suppression gear to keep it quiet. It can carry more than half a ton of gear and has a range of 125 miles. It also packs a winch and a generator, and has a 9,000-pound towing capacity.
Four of the little robots are going to Afghanistan this year. They’ll help U.S. infantry in the field.
Ultimately Lockheed Martin wants to add weapons and targeting systems to the SMSS, turning these cute little gear haulers into autonomous death machines—putting them in harm’s way rather than soldiers.