Mechanical Mule Makes Itself Sort Of Useful -- Strategy Page
April 1, 2012: The U.S. Army's latest design of, well, a mechanical mule for the infantry spent the last three months being tested in Afghanistan. Four of these vehicles were sent there to operate with the troops. The SMSS (Squad Mission Support System) is a six wheeled, 1.7 ton vehicle that can carry 544 kg (1,200 pounds) of cargo and will follow whoever is carrying its controller and can operate by itself for short distances.
The SMSS had passed most of its tests in the United States and was then used by some troops with combat experience. There it was discovered that the vehicle was too noisy for patrol work (which is what infantry spent most of their time doing out in the bush). The noise issue was noted earlier, the manufacturer reduced it somewhat and added the capability to run very quietly for a short while. But this was not enough because troops in the field noted that even with no engine noise, the sound of the vehicle moving and breaking branches as it moved was enough to alert any nearby enemy.
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My Comment: The number one problem with this tool in the battlefield is noise .... a problem that is not going ot be solved soon.