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Conceived by the Intelligent Systems, Robotics and Cybernetics unit at Sandia National Laboratories, the “Multi-Modal Vehicle Concept” would travel land, sea, and air by transforming itself to accommodate different terrains. Its wings become fins as it dives into water, or underwater paddles that shed casings to reveal wheels as it moves toward land — wheels with the ability to jump 30 feet into the air. An entire campaign could be conducted by a remote operator or, more likely, semi-autonomously.
As it stands now, carrying out a similar mission would require coordinating a team of unmanned aerial, undersea, and ground vehicles made by different manufacturers with different communications systems. It would take careful planning to make sure all vehicles are in place at the right time. But Sandia says that because the Multi-Modal Vehicle is designed modularly and works off one interface, it won’t be subject to those same hang-ups, and that it can adapt mid-mission as conditions change.
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