But the real world worked on them also. Now on display at the US Army Transportation Musem at Fort Eustis is GE’s Pedipulator, or “Walking Truck", which was developed for the U.S. Army in the mid-‘60s. This quadroped first lumbered through testing paces Pittsfield, Massachusetts, circa 1962.
It wasn't actually a 'Walking Truck', of course, it was a Cybernetic Anthropmorophous Machine (CAM), conceptualized because the Army wanted a vehicle that could navigate rough, steep terrain, push through dense vegetation, step over felled trees, and sidle around standing ones while nimbly carrying up to a half-ton in men and material.
Pedipulator. Courtesy: GE Reports
The Army liked what GE had been testing and awarded a contract for building the experimental vehicle in 1966, a year after America began sending large numbers of ground troops to Vietnam. But the super-sensitive, hand-and-foot-controlled hydraulics that enabled the CAM to casually push aside a jeep or hold light bulb without breaking it also made it a field maintenance headache, while operators found the constant manipulation of the controls fatiguing and the project was mothballed.
Courtesy: Schenectady Museum. When I was young, PCs were marketed to families with the promise that it could hold millions of recipes. Busy parents quickly learned that it was much faster to use index cards in a box than wait for a computer to load up, especially if it wasn't in the kitchen. People who buy phones because you can watch movies on them, that is what the next generation will think of you also.
The CAM’s “force feedback” capability found applications undersea, where GE developed hydraulic arms for the world’s first aluminum submarine, the Aluminaut. Today, robotic arms are on everything from Hazmat vehicles to space shuttles.
Have robots advanced a lot since the 1960s? Apparently not - but they can transform:
Where Jules Verne Meets Star Wars: GE’s Walking Truck of the 1960s - GE Reports