Hot or Not? The Crusher

ByWes WhitworthJuly 21, 2020
Hot or Not? The Crusher

Self-driving four-wheel drives could be the next big thing, so we thought we’d bring you the Crusher – a 6X6 robot.

It’s no new thing that we’re getting electric vehicles; they’ve started rolling out, and some actually look pretty cool. But we thought we’d take a wander down the rabbit hole today and bring you a self-driving, remote control six-wheel-drive ‘robot’ known as the Crusher. This rather interesting piece of technology is from the boffins over at DARPA, or the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (a US government research mob).

Now with a name like ‘Crusher’, you’d expect something pretty awesome, right? Not a model or a scaled-down version. We’re happy to report your expectations are spot on. How does a full six-tonne kerb weight sound? But let’s get into the details before we get too carried away.

So the Crusher robot is a six-wheel-drive, with all six wheels powered by individual electric motors. Interestingly enough, it has an onboard 60kW diesel ‘generator’ that charges the batteries, with a heap of fuel storage, so you’ve not got to worry about the range on it. It can do a 360-degree turn on the spot, as the entire driveline works as a skid steer, with the wheels able to turn independently of each other. The Crusher has been built to walk over walls up to 1200mm high and run the gauntlet of wooded slopes and swampy creeks. It’ll also do 42km/h in sprint mode.

Where things get really cool is that it has the ability to raise and lower it’s suspension by 30-inches (760mm) completely independently; one wheel up, five wheels down. Oh, and it’s also running on 50-inch wheels, with 148-inch diameter tyres! In the words of the director of DARPA’s Tactical Technology Office, “This vehicle can go into places where, if you were following in a Humvee, you’d come out with spinal injuries”. How’s that for street cred?

Now before you get any ideas about taking one of these for a drive, they are able to run completely autonomously, or can be controlled by remote. The main reason for the Crusher’s design was as a packhorse, being able to carry 3600kg of gear within its cargo area, and it is able to see ‘enemy troops’ up to 3.2km away. Part of its autonomous design is that if it finds a wall or cliff higher than 1.8m high, or a gorge more than 1.8m deep, the Crusher will automatically search for an alternative route.

Unfortunately, there are no plans to put this thing into production, however the technology derived from it will go into future unmanned vehicle designs. After seeing the Crusher we’ve decided that towing camper-trailers and caravans is for saps… just have this bad boy follow you to your campsite with a camper mounted on top!

Want to see it in action? Have a go at the ‘Russian’ video below! Yes, we’re also a little confused why the best video we’ve been able to find on the Crusher is a Russian one… (cue conspiracy theories now).