Marines Test Tethered Unmanned Vehicle


The Marine Corps is testing a tethered unmanned vehicle designed to follow human movement, carry supplies and perform a wide range of possible missions for forces on-the-move, industry officials said Sept. 24 at the Corps’ Modern Day Marine symposium, Quantico, Va.

General Dynamics Land Systems has developed the Multi-Utility Tactical Transport, or MUTT – a 54-inch wide, five-foot long, 750-pound four-wheeled amphibious unmanned vehicle engineered to help dismounted infantry units.

The MUTT, which can drive on wheels or tracks, can transport on-board an MV-22 Osprey, developers said.

“MUTT can help lighten the load. It can perform casualty evacuations and it can carry counter-IED components or communications packages. It is really multi-utility,” said John Rash, business development, General Dynamics Land Systems.

The Marine Corps recently conducted operations with two MUTTs at Yuma Proving Ground, Ariz., Rash added. One of the MUTTs carried communications equipment and the other helped lighten the load for dismounted Marines by carrying supplies.

“The MUTT will carry 600-pounds on land and it is amphibious. It will swim. While it is swimming it carries 300-pounds. It works off of lithium-ion batteries. With those batteries fully charged and carrying a full 600-pounds,a Marine can walk 15 miles with the MUTT before there is any degradation in battery power,” Rash added.

MUTT is not an autonomous vehicle but rather navigates through what developers describe as “tethering” technology. The vehicle operator uses a high-strength fishing line, or tether, to direct the movements of the MUTT, Rash said.

A vehicle sensor detects the movements of the fishing line which is pulled by the vehicle operator.

“The marine or the soldier operating this system is controlling the vehicle where it goes. This is a non-autonomous system. There are two sensors in the system. Basically when the tether is pulled out to two meters, a sensor tells that system to move forward or backward. An angle sensor tells the vehicle whether to move left or right,” Rash explained.

The concept of the vehicle is to allow the soldier or marine operating to have the freedom to carry a weapon and focus on mission activities while pulling the “tethered” vehicle along behind, Rash said.

About the Author

Kris Osborn
Kris Osborn is the managing editor of Scout Warrior.
  • Jeff M

    This is going to be extraordinarily useful, once the technology matures (long range, noiseless, multi-terrain). I could see this being used for cover, in addition to enabling teams to carry much more.

  • Guest

    Opens up many opportunities to put crew-served or mounted weapons into the infantry/dismounted foot patrols. Imagine the usefulness of having an M2 .50 cal or M19 grenade launcher with your dismounted patrol.

    • mcducky

      Since it’s being pulled along it’s not going to have very good muzzle discipline…

    • tiger

      Weapons they do not lack. What they need is to lose is 70 pounds of crap on their backs so they can use them. That is what they are developing.

  • guest

    How about fuel cell instead of battery?

  • rtsy

    Looks like a slow rolling target. Great for a road filled country, not so good in a tangled jungle trail.

    • tiger

      Better than being a slow walking target with that gear on…

    • CommonSense

      I dont think we will be fighting in any jungles any time soon….This application is geared toward our current combat mission desert and urban streets.

      • blight_qwerty

        I dont think we will be fighting in any jungles any time soon

        Now you’ve jinxed it

  • ken

    How much and what are the alternatives?

  • Taylor

    The fishing line control sounds like it could catch on bushes or rocks.?

  • jj

    With technology today there shouldn’t be a need for a string to guide it. It should be wireless…

  • ken

    Perfect for flat desert terrain.

  • jsallison

    I could put low pressure tires on my Segway, and that could schlep my clubs, woohoo! Autocaddy for the win!

  • oblatt22

    A short ranged jeep that you have to walk behind – yes the marines have a new loser.
    Cant wait to hear of the reports of marine run aver by his own jeep LOL

    • ShamWowed

      What project, service, species has your blessing? Just curious if you can spew something from your mouth other than your apparent man crush with all things USMC or even DOD? I mean, are you okay with tanks, ships, subs, legos, what? Your internet warrior status is waning a bit with your typical BS. Why not share with the common folk your secrets to military and economic supremacy?

  • Batou

    The first time I watched a tethered UMV was during the film – Battle: Los Angeles. The freeway scene and I thought to myself, “what a stupid alien concept that is…!” Well, proves me wrong. BUT, if I was spotting for a forward mortar company, that MUTT is my first target – just to ruin the opposing fire team’s day. Funny enough, in the movie – that UMV (or should we call it AlienMV), that was the first thing the squad worked hard to take down. I hate shouldering a load as much as the next guy but the minute we can’t fight with what we carry personally – I get worried…

    • Hunter76

      Brilliant! We should get rid of all helos, trucks, humvees, etc so we can assure everything a Marine needs is on his back.

  • Beno

    Brilliantly simple and useful.
    Seems robust and practical for a lot of environments ( not all )
    I cant see the cost being high, but ….

  • Kostas

    The dimensions and weight of the vehicle make it unsuitable for use on a trail or at any real life off-road scenario. Just use a jeep instead. Moreover, recharging the batteries would be an issue

    • tiger

      We have no jeeps. They weigh more. Not as transportable by air.

  • Botas

    What if the cable snaps?

    • Hunter76

      Just tie on a new piece of line. If only all repairs were so easy!

  • Muttling

    Interesting concept, but I think it needs a LOT of work before its ready for battlefield operations. Now in a humanitarian mission like the earthquake in Haiti or even hurricane response, this would definitely be useful.

    As others have mentioned, battery recharge is a HUGE issue. It’s good for 15 miles, that’s about a 5 hour force march if you take your time. How do you recharge it, what is required to recharge it, and how long does it take to recharge?

  • Free Thinker

    how about instead of the tether, equip it with a tracker to allow it to sense the operator or grunts position and range? this can be infrared or a low powered laser, to eliminate the possibility of jamming or interference in the field.

    • bloke_from_ohio

      Jamming optical systems is easy. The atmoshpere does it all the time without enemy help.

  • Guest

    just another thing to make it easier , and kinder for a marine these days… As someone stated “how you recharge it?”

  • Joe Biden

    Must be for all those new “Infantrywomen” the Corps is trying to recruit. Also, the string idea is super neato… they could use some string between a couple of empty cans for secure communications.

  • bobbymike

    Waiting for the mounted Dillon Aero minigun version

  • Hunter76

    The tether concept is excellent! Cheap, dependable, unjammable, and minimum training for the operator.

    However, there are many circumstances where remote control would be useful. All the actuators are already in place, it would easy to add on a simple rc unit. Since the Mutt would be primarily tether-controlled, it would not pay the enemy to jam it.

  • John Callahan

    I remember when the USMC used to put handles on (anything) and then called it “Portable.” The times are changing. Anyone ever think,… How about carrying less.

  • Wilhelm

    very nice … but not on ice .. :)