The Marine Corps is testing a tethered unmanned vehicle designed to follow human movement, carry supplies and perform a wide range of possible missions for forces on-the-move, industry officials said Sept. 24 at the Corps’ Modern Day Marine symposium, Quantico, Va.
General Dynamics Land Systems has developed the Multi-Utility Tactical Transport, or MUTT – a 54-inch wide, five-foot long, 750-pound four-wheeled amphibious unmanned vehicle engineered to help dismounted infantry units.
The MUTT, which can drive on wheels or tracks, can transport on-board an MV-22 Osprey, developers said.
“MUTT can help lighten the load. It can perform casualty evacuations and it can carry counter-IED components or communications packages. It is really multi-utility,” said John Rash, business development, General Dynamics Land Systems.
The Marine Corps recently conducted operations with two MUTTs at Yuma Proving Ground, Ariz., Rash added. One of the MUTTs carried communications equipment and the other helped lighten the load for dismounted Marines by carrying supplies.
“The MUTT will carry 600-pounds on land and it is amphibious. It will swim. While it is swimming it carries 300-pounds. It works off of lithium-ion batteries. With those batteries fully charged and carrying a full 600-pounds,a Marine can walk 15 miles with the MUTT before there is any degradation in battery power,” Rash added.
MUTT is not an autonomous vehicle but rather navigates through what developers describe as “tethering” technology. The vehicle operator uses a high-strength fishing line, or tether, to direct the movements of the MUTT, Rash said.
A vehicle sensor detects the movements of the fishing line which is pulled by the vehicle operator.
“The marine or the soldier operating this system is controlling the vehicle where it goes. This is a non-autonomous system. There are two sensors in the system. Basically when the tether is pulled out to two meters, a sensor tells that system to move forward or backward. An angle sensor tells the vehicle whether to move left or right,” Rash explained.
The concept of the vehicle is to allow the soldier or marine operating to have the freedom to carry a weapon and focus on mission activities while pulling the “tethered” vehicle along behind, Rash said.