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CYBERNETIC WALKING MACHINE 

   General Electric received a commission to design the cybernetic walking machine in 1966, and they delivered it to the Army in August 1970.   Its four legs carried 500 pounds of cargo over extremely difficult terrain that was inaccessible to other vehicles.

   It stood 11 feet tall, walked 5 mph and was powerful enough to haul a jeep out of a mud hole.  It could also climb over large obstacles, balance on its diagonal legs, and push 1,000 pounds across a concrete floor.

 machine negotiating stairs in test

Connected to numerous hydraulic hoses during testing, the walking machine could climb over obstacles.

   The operator, perched in the top of the walker, balanced and coordinated the legs through controls attached to his hands and feet.  

   Each hip had two swivel movements, and each knee could bend.   A feedback system allowed the operator to feel the load the walker was actually encountering, but at greatly reduced magnitude.

   It was surprisingly easy to operate.  With 2 hours practice, an operator could walk foward and backward, turn around and balance on two diagonal legs.

right front view of walking machine side view of walking machine

   In theory, it was a great tool, but it never made it out of testing.  It used 50 gallons of oil per minute, requiring it to be attached to hydraulic lines at all times.

   Army funding was soon cut, and the responsibility for moving heavy loads up uneven terrain was transferred to helicopters.

 

 

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