Transformers Move from Fiction to Real Life

November 11, 2013, By Daniel Rapcencu

For years we have seen impossible transformations of machines from one form to the other. Transformers are well known to just about anyone who has had children or have friends with little ones. These magical machines can look like an automobile, transform to a flying machine, dive into the water to travel like a submarine and even walk.

Small children are not the only ones dreaming of having their own real life Transformer. Scientists at Sandia National Laboratories are starting to bring some childhood Transformer dreams to life. While it is rumored that the word “transformer” is surreptitiously whispered among the scientific crowd at Sandia, the official name for Transformers is Multi-Modal Vehicle.

Neo Grotesque Transformer

Neo Grotesque Transformer

They have imagined a vehicle that changes itself from an airplane to a submarine and eventually a land vehicle that can move over various terrain surfaces and even roll over some obstacles. The ISRC (Intelligent Systems, Robotics, & Cybernetics) group at Sandia National Laboratories have been designing such a Multi-Modal Vehicle.

Sandia National Labs Multi-Modal Vehicle - Air Mode

Sandia National Labs Multi-Modal Vehicle – Air Mode

I would say that the MMV is the SEAL of the unmanned military robotic vehicles. It is comfortable operating in the sea, air or land; something thought impossible just a few years ago.  I can see an armed version performing covert missions to neutralize targets that are a threat to our troops.

Sandia National Labs Multi-Modal Vehicle - Sea Mode

Sandia National Labs Multi-Modal Vehicle – Sea Mode

The Multi-Modal vehicle is an ideal tool for military missions where it can be used against a variety of threats in any environment. Currently, our armed forces use a variety of robotic vehicles and drones. Having a single robot that can perform anywhere means that a deployment alongside troops will allow more of these multi-purpose vehicles to be carried instead of a whole slew of different robotic machines.

Sandia National Labs Multi-Modal Vehicle - Land Mode

Sandia National Labs Multi-Modal Vehicle – Land Mode

The ISRC has already built proof of concept hardware and performed limited testing on sections of the Multi-Modal Vehicles. They also admit “while the concept may appear to be off in the distant future, our testing has shown that this concept could soon be a reality.” In fact, they are actively looking for industry partners to help mature the design and build a working MMV.

Watch the MMV concept movie below.

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