Meet Robbox, the robot that schleps a half-ton of supplies for special forces.


If you’ve ever seen a member of the special forces kitted out for a mission, you might have been astonished at how much they were expected to carry on their person: 132 to 154 pounds is about average for French teams, for example. Their packs contain not only their nourishment for several days and, of course, their weapons, but also all the other equipment they might need: cameras, drones, microphones, breaching gear and all sorts of other bits and pieces that even James Bond might have a hard time identifying. I magine how much their agility and overall effectiveness would improve if they didn’t have to carry these huge loads—if they had a robotic mule to do it for them?

The Robbox vehicle looks like a 1,500 lb 4×4 wheeled jeep without a roof. It’s about 5 ft wide, 11 ft long, and can carry 1,100 lbs of mission modules. These modules can be integrated on the roughly 8 ft by 4 ft platform and in the approximately 5 ft x 4 ft x 2 ft space underneath the platform between the wheels. Its task is to carry cargo in different forms. The flat platform can also be equipped with a stretcher to rapidly evacuate a wounded soldier, making it similar in concept to this robot the US Marines have been testing.

The vehicle’s diesel engine allows it to drive around at a top speed of 50 mph for 186 miles on paved roads (19 mph cross-country) while the 15kW electric engine that feeds Li-ion batteries allows it to drive 50 miles in silence. “The weakness of existing systems is their [lack of] autonomy,” Beaussant remarks. He wanted a robot that didn’t need frequent refueling. So Robbox has enough fuel to keep the diesel engine running for 24 hours. “This means that with average use of three or four hours a day, it is self-sufficient for up to a week,” he says. “[Robbox] provides 50Kw of electric power so can be used by the operatives not only to charge their electronic devices but also to power their equipment.”

The robotic mule can either be piloted from a distance or follow waypoints. It is also being taught to follow a road or a person.