The MACE-2 unmanned reconnaissance vehicle is a smart Land Rover in disguise.
You might expect to find a bunch of Land Rover adaptations at a defense industry showcase of new toys called the DVD Show. You just might not recognize them all. Take the MACE-2 for example. The acronym stands for Mira Autonomous Control Engineering version 2 and it’s not only tough and remarkably nimble, it’s also pretty darn clever.
The military is very excited about it because it does not require a driver…or a map. It actually “learns” about its environment as it goes, and adjusts accordingly.
The vehicle features a hybrid diesel/electric engine (soon to be deployed on the civilian Freelander 2) and Land Rover axles. Suspension comes from a new, all-in-one spring/shock combination charged with nitrogen at 160psi. It boasts an axle articulation of 44 inches, and its wheel-forward design gives it an unmatched approach angle. The cool blue frame is tough but lightweight, at just 1,200kg, which enables it to cover a range of 120 miles at speeds of over 80 mph.
Can you imagine this thing passing you on the highway at 80 mph? With no driver to curse at?
But you have to love it for its brains as well as its body. Each time the MACE-2 is deployed it can remember the terrain and its surrounding environment, allowing it to fully maximize fuel and power usage. It thinks “I remember this stretch. This is easy, so I’ll turn off the diesel and just cruise on electric until I get to that sandy hill up ahead. Then it’s diesel all the way.” And if that weren’t enough, it can also communicate with HQ and/or other MACE-2 vehicles in the vicinity (read: battlefield) to get a wider picture of the situation and 'remember' ground it hasn't even covered yet.
The military may want to further develop and refine the MACE-2, but we (or maybe, our enemies) should see the first production vehicle – perhaps a MACE-3 - in 2009.
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