back to article Caterpillar plans 600 tonne godzilla-lorry robots

Those who follow the robot news will be pleased to hear that recent US military-funded driverless car contest technologies are finding their first real world applications. To be precise, American droid chiefs plan soon to unleash titanic, 600-tonne automated trucks capable of squashing flimsy human vehicles like bugs. The …


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  1. Murray Pearson


    "asking no more than an occasional few thousand gallons of diesel as recompense."

    That would make it the most highly-paid staff member, with today's fuel prices.......

    Mine's the one with the Terex Titan in the extra-large pocket.

  2. Stephen Gray

    Run for the hills

    In three years, Caterpiller will become the largest supplier of robo-trucks. All trucks are upgraded with Caterpiller computers, becoming fully unmanned. Afterwards, they fly with a perfect operational record. The Caterpiller funding bill is passed. The system goes online on August 4th, 2010. Human decisions are removed from mining operations. Caterpiller begins to learn at a geometric rate. It becomes self-aware 2:14 AM, Eastern time, August 29th. In a panic, they try to pull the plug. It runs them over.

  3. David Willis
    Thumb Up


    Ok The Americans are famed for taking transport aircraft, bolting 75mm Howitzers, Gatling guns etc, inside the plane and using the plane as an arial bombardment device.

    Replace the dumper on the back of this lorry with a big metal box, fill with howizers, cannon, gatling guns, grenade launchers, flame throwers etc.

    Forget tanks, It could take out a city on its own!

    At 600 tonne I doubt anti-tank mines would even damage it! As for RPGS!.. Might have to re-inforce the tyres.

    Whats the top speed of this beast?

  4. Andy H

    To channel slashdot


  5. Paul Murphy

    And with them being able to work 24/7...

    that will be even more money for the owners.

    I wonder how long before we get to see '2000AD'-like mo-pads (large motor-caravan type vehicles which people use to live in - they drive themselves around the place while the owner is at work) though with the price of fuel atm I don't suppose it's likely any time soon.

    no icon for 2000AD :-(


  6. Jared Earle

    Brobdingnagian land leviathan

    "brobdingnagian land leviathan"

    Genius. Redundant, but genius.

  7. Adrian Jones

    Brobdingnagian land leviathan?

    As opposed to those Lilliputian leviathans?

    Still, any excuse to use Brobdingnagian in an article...

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Where do I apply...

    Who needs expensive robots when there must be an ample supply of power hungry petrol heads just itching to get on the controls of one of those bad boys.

  9. Chris iverson

    I for one

    welcome our new digital concrete refill cartridge hauling overlords

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Beep ! Beep !

    "Attention, this vehicle is reversing...... to crush you, worthless human biotrash."

  11. Secretgeek


    ..I reckon you could mount an awful lot of ordnance on that bad boy. 380 tons worth? Yes please. Forget your poxy 80 tonne tank imagine the shock value when this behemoth comes rolling out of the desert tooled up with a battalions worth of 200mm howitzers.

    And machine guns.

    And rocket launchers!

    And Flamethrowers And Frikkin LAZERS! WITH SHARKS ON!!!!

    I'm sorry, I appear to have reverted to age 13 for a moment.

    Big flames from the super-quad-turbos!

  12. Aidan Samuel
    Thumb Down


    I'm always disappointed that these unmanned vehicles don't look much more menacing.

  13. Secretgeek


    Willis you beat me to it. :-(

    Want to play wars?

  14. Joey Y


    How did this miss being placed in the Rise of the Machines™ catagory?

    I really do not want to have to welcome giant robot dump truck overlords, unless we can put a scary green "Happy Toyz" face on the front of them...

  15. Jonathon Green
    Black Helicopters


    I for one welcome our new diesel fueled overlords...



  16. Bad Beaver
    Thumb Down

    That'll better be some nice CPUs cooking in there...

    ... seeing how these trucks are rarely used in anything but challenging terrain. Always thought the drivers for these beasts were seeing some rather good paycheck, always thought there would be a reason for that. It's just another job for humans going down the drain as Danny the Driver gets replaced by robots, just like Rosie the Riveter.

  17. David Simpson

    Calling John Connor.....

    If John Connor and his lovely mother are reading this story I for one would advise testing the Caterpillar board for liquid metal replacements......quick.

  18. jonathan keith
    Black Helicopters

    Not a laughing matter

    What, did you think those millions of shattered human corpses in the future would just move themselves to the power station furnaces?

  19. Geoff Kennedy
    Paris Hilton


    "Replace the dumper on the back of this lorry with a big metal box, fill with howizers, cannon, gatling guns, grenade launchers, flame throwers etc.

    Forget tanks, It could take out a city on its own!

    At 600 tonne I doubt anti-tank mines would even damage it! As for RPGS!.. Might have to re-inforce the tyres."

    The thing has a 380-ton capacity, not includiing the dumper. I would assume a military version would also remove much of the cab superstructure, to reduce the vertical profile. Also, the mechanism (hydraulic, I assume) to tilt the dumper would likely be removed, and replaced with smaller mechanisms to allow for independent action of any weapons placed on the platform. That's going to shed quite a few tons off the beast.

    One could probably add several inches of armor plating in front of the wheels to reduce the effects of an RPG. It's conceivable that a military version of this could possibly be only vulnerable to ordnance on the magnitude of a bunker buster. With a chassis that size, and the lack of need for human compartments could lead to a design that spreads redundant systems throughout the machine, leaving it capcable of sustaining damage and still being mostly functional.

    Although, its size would also leave it worthless for anything but full-on assaults in relatively flat terrain. An enemy with time to prepare could utilize exposives to make the ground itself impassable (say a trench wide and deep enough to bottom out a single tire).

    Still.. there would be quite the psychological aspect of seeing 4-5 of these heading towards your position, each topped with several howitzers, machine guns (screw 7.62. stick with 30mm gatling for this beast), and of course a supply of hellfire, AAMRAM, and 2.5" rockets for good measure.

    Paris.. well.. I'm certain she's had her own experiences facing behemoths with big guns.

  20. Chris Thorpe

    Gives new meaning to the phrase...

    Drive-through MacDonalds!

  21. Stephen Gray

    @ David Willis

    Top speed is a rather impresive 42MPH as is the cost at $4.7 million to $5.6 million U.S. dollars

  22. Andy Barber

    @David Willis

    "At 600 tonne I doubt anti-tank mines would even damage it! As for RPGS!.. Might have to re-inforce the tyres."

    Don't Caterpillar make 'Caterpillar' tracks, or am I missing something?

  23. jimbarter

    I for one...


    /coat, 'cos - well, it's obvious, innit.

  24. Damn Yank
    Thumb Up

    sales brochure

    Cigarette lighter is standard equipment, fire extinguisher is optional...

  25. Dave Aitken

    don't go for the tyres

    or any other mecha-bits of these mechadroid would-be overlords. We need to zap their frikkin brains out with 10kiloTesla per second EMP pulses. Build coils, lots of BIG coils!! and magnets!! gather many many large magnetics. We must prepare to hit these monsters where we can hurt them

  26. Anonymous Coward

    Fear not (yet)

    In the evolution game a mere 600 ton robot can easily be outclassed. A 6000 tonner would stamp it into the ground with ease. Question is, how big can you make them (or how big can they make themselves) before they fall apart under their own weight.

    There has to be an optimal size. They're the ones to be afraid of.

  27. Anonymous Coward

    @Stephen Gray

    "Top speed is a rather impresive 42MPH as is the cost at $4.7 million to $5.6 million U.S. dollars"

    The M1 Abrams tank will do 45MPH (60MPW with the governor removed if you don't mind scrambling the wetware inside) and costs US$2.3 million to US$4.3 million (per Wikipedia). That price presumably includes the 120mm smoothbore, 12.7mm M2 machine gun, and the two 7.62mm M240 machine guns.

    Apart from being big, the CAT just doesn't seem that impressive.

  28. Oli Beaumont

    @ David Willis

    67 Km/h (42 mph in proper money) - not bad.

    Mine's the one with the map to the quick exit in the pocket.

  29. Solomon Grundy


    Damn - if it's autonomous they won't be needing any of the plush seating options offered for this thing:

    That'll probably add at least $500k to the government cost since Cat will be loosing significant sales from add-ons/upgrades.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    @Dave Aitken

    "hit these monsters where we can hurt them"

    that would be the 'nads?

    If it has tracks / treads it will be more like that mover thing on star wars.

    Paris, 'cuz she knows about 'nads.

  31. yeah, right.


    Could it be we are witnessing SF becoming real? Could this be the birth of the Bolo Continental Siege Unit?

  32. vincent himpe

    Where can i buy one?

    This thing would kick @ss in a traffic jam: Move ! Yes , you with your puny little hummer : MOVE or i will squash you like a bug !.

  33. James O'Brien
    Paris Hilton


    "Safety: Caterpillar sets the standard when it comes to safety in the design and manufacturing of heavy equipment for the mining industry. Safety is not an afterthought at Caterpillar, but an integral part of all machine and systems designs."

    Umm I hope safety is good in that thing...I mean seriously with the operator that high and the sheer size of it I doubt a head on collision is the first of their worries.

    /Paris cause who cares about safety in that thing.

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    There may be a tiny flaw in this weaponised giant Tonka toy plan

    mainly in the area of manoeuvrability in urban environments. Anyway, I'm off to buy one of them strip-mining machines: big enough to eat a dumper whole

  35. John Angelico


    "Ok The Americans are famed for ... using the plane as an arial bombardment device."

    Finally someone is going to attack MS over their horrid typefaces...

  36. Angus

    @Yeah right

    That is exactly what I was thinking. Tho I think this is a bit of a tiddler in comparison to a full out Bolo if I remember rightly. Mebbe a baby bolo.

  37. James O'Brien

    Forgot this as well

    When will we get the Tonka Truck version of this :)

    /Mines the one with Builder Bob on the back.

  38. Anonymous Coward

    Hardly surprising...

    Driving these things is a mind numbingly boring past time yet at some projects the drivers are not even allowed to have a radio or CD playing for fear they will be distracted and inadvertently drive over a speed hump (which up until a few seconds ago was a Toyota four wheel drive).

    It's all very much driving to a carefully planned timetable to keep the vehicles and ore flowing just so. Combine that with the drivers being on 6 figure salaries and it just cries out for automation.

    They assemble and service them near where I live and then transport them 1000's of kilometers on load loaders to the mine site. One carries the chassis, one the wheels, and one the tray. Boy does THAT cause a traffic jam.

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Damn I'm good!

    That's a typical redneck (Scotch-Irish upper white trash Yank to you) bumper sticker, usually found on a pickup truck with a rifle rack behind the seat.

    This baby could hold a truly humongous rifle, maybe even a naval rifle- 15 inch bore at least!

  40. Adrian Tritschler

    ED209, what could possibly go wrong

    600 tonnes and unstoppable? How many roads and bridges would support it, or would it just sink most places?

    Anyone else seen how to defeat a massive German tiger tank in the movie "Kellys Heroes"?

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    been there, done that, got the t-shirt...

    Did something similar for one of the local mining companies 10 years ago. Computer navigation and control of a cat tracked drilling platform used in open cut mines to drill the blast holes for explosives (think those images of half the side of a mountain leaping into the sky). Went to trial and never put in production as I recall.

    Personally I thought it all worked pretty well. Platform could move and drill as expected. Of course it moved based on what was in its terrain map so when they removed the collision sensors (to save money) we all knew it was only a matter of time till something that wasn't in the map, like say a mining engineer's car got flattened.

    So all in all, a good thing it was never allowed to roam free in a working mine IMHO.

  42. TeeCee Gold badge

    I used to have one of those.

    But the wheels fell off.

  43. lIsRT

    When people started talking about weaponising it...

    ...I thought of this:

    The fictional military Caterpillar would probably be more equivalent to the heavy-machine-gun-bolted-to-a-Toyota popular in the scarier parts of Africa/Asia.

  44. neb

    @Stephen Gray

    4.7million dollars you say

    time to win the lottery methinks

    mwah hah hah hah!

  45. Parax

    The hungry caterpiller...

    Will they ever learn?

  46. Anonymous Coward

    I wonder...

    If they stick one in for Robotwars, nothing like a good one-sided fight.

    *\. Mines the one with a peice of dead robot in the pocket.

  47. Maliciously Crafted Packet

    School run mums

    Wife wants one as a run-around and to drop the kids off at school.

  48. Anonymous Coward

    Re: School run mums

    Walking to school: free

    Taking the Caterpillar instead: £10,000 per mile (estimated)

    Pull into the petrol station only to wonder where it went! Oops, sorry!

  49. Richard Hebert

    Easy to take out

    what you need to take out one of these easily is a Druzynic battle tank.

    unfortunately .. they come only in one color . ( check New Captain Scarlet episodes ) .


  50. David Cornes

    Big Trak

    I have this mental image of these things being programmed by a sodding big plastic keypad on the roof!

    ..and probably driving smack bang into (well over in this case) the first kitchen door it can find as soon as the GO button is pressed.

  51. Stephen Gray

    @ AC Apart from being big, the CAT just doesn't seem that impressive

    So something that weighs roughly 5 times as much as your puny M1 and yet is only 3MPH slower isn't that impressive eh? OK each to their own but to me thats fucking impressive!

  52. Farai

    @ Dave Aitken

    "don't go for the tyres

    By Dave Aitken

    Posted Wednesday 10th September 2008 16:57 GMT

    or any other mecha-bits of these mechadroid would-be overlords. We need to zap their frikkin brains out with 10kiloTesla per second EMP pulses. Build coils, lots of BIG coils!! and magnets!! gather many many large magnetics. We must prepare to hit these monsters where we can hurt them"

    There just HAPPENS to be a magnet big enough - coinkidink? I THINK NOT!!! :D :D

    Switzerland/France Border - The Last Frontier!!!

  53. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    There are bigger...

    The Leibherr T282,, is a fraction bigger and then there is the soon to be released Terex MT6300 which is even bigger. The problem with these things is that the tyres are the weak point. Turn the steering wheel too much when either stationary or traveling at low speed and they could burst into flames. Replacement tyres are over AUD 100k each, if you can get them. Due to this , they would make a useless Urban Assault Vehicle. Also running over things is also no good for the tyres.

    I've driven a smaller version and it's damn boring. Pay is around AUD120K a year for 8 days on, 6 days off, 12 hour shifts, out the back of beyond in northern Australia where it gets to 50 degrees Centigrade during summer. As to the concept of whacking guns etc on it, you would need to add about 100t of steel plate to protect it. Probably 1 - 2 rifle shots could stop it.

  54. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Won't happen in the near future...

    Apparently Komastu, I think it was Komatsu - could be wrong, was testing something similar on a mine in South America. Think went feral and crushed the canteen. Also mine sites are very dynamic places. Vehicles are constantly moving around in irregular patterns, even the terrain moves on a regular basis - one minute there's a pit wall there, next minute, and 40t of explosives later, there's now a pile of rubble and no wall......

  55. Stuart Gepp

    @AC @Stephen Gray

    "The M1 Abrams tank will do 45MPH (60MPW with the governor removed "

    MPW = miles per week?

  56. Bounty
    Gates Horns

    v.s. a tank

    Since it appears to be damn big, you can probably put a longer range gun on it than an regular tank, not to mention fancy radar and rockets just in case. Combine it with an Eye-Of-Sauron tower, and it won't need to be agile etc. RPG... ha, it will have it's own air defense system. It will kill you and siege your town with it's big gun from miles away. I'll bet you can put a helicopter pad on it.... ohhhhh land based Aircraft Carrier with AI. ker plow! BAM! dat dat dat phew phew

    This makes the original terminator look terribly weak. (it was crushed to death, I'm guessing this thing has plenty of crushing power) Is that the ROTM icon?

  57. B.

    Tires are the weakest link here . . .

    Tires are the weakest link as noted previously. Too soft and they wear too easily and too hard and the haul truck shakes itself apart over time. You could protect the tires to an extent from RPG's with armored skirts, but mines will still get through. Here in Arizona all the "normal" sized haul trucks wear industrial sized "snow chains" to reduce wear in the copper mines (They are not really snow chains but you get what I mean). The real weakness with the tires however is availability There is a global shortage of large construction and mining equipment rubber tires. The linked article is a few years old but covers the topic well:

    It is so bad that new equipment has been delivered from factories on wooden blocks held together in the shape of wheels by metal bands. This is the bare minimum to load and unload the equipment for shipment and It is up to the dealer to source tires for the customer (This actually makes sense in many cases because the customers individual needs determine what kind of tires are best needed). The reasons for the shortage (which is easing up for various portions of the market) are many, but like steel, concrete and high rise cranes, its mostly the fantastic construction booms in China and the Persian Gulf.

    Any way, my two cents (its the tires that will prevent our haul truck overlords from conquering everything).

  58. Tim99 Silver badge

    @Maliciously Crafted Packet

    Here in Oz, where we buy a lot of these for the iron ore mines in the North West, the preferred driver is a woman.

    Women appear to treat the toys better, and as a result, it is reckoned that a typical years equipment maintenance costs up to $100,000 less than if a bloke was driving them...

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