Most of you will remember the AT-AT walkers from The Empire Strikes Back as both pretty fucking rad, and among the most impractical vehicles in sci-fi movie history.
But before the rebel alliance could show the world how easy it is to trip a giant robot with legs, General Electric was developing their own AT-ATs. The result was the Quadruped, a four-legged "walking truck" that was driven using the operator's own arms and legs.
It never went into production. The military was too busy building invisible planes and missiles that can follow you down a flight of stairs to give much of a shit about robots that can step over a pile of logs. Or so we thought.
Enter Big Dog, the U.S. Army's modern prototype robot-mule, currently being tested in Afghanistan.
If you stuck with that clip to the end, you saw Big Dog stay on its feet when a grown man kicks it as hard as he can, and jumping like a robotic water spider. Don't seem to remember the AT-ATs pulling off that maneuver.The Problem
The whine of its robot motor sounds like a banshee that's swallowed a margarita mixer, and it takes tiny baby steps that suggest Arthritic Dog would have been a more accurate name. So there's nothing overtly wrong with the Big Dog, as long as you don't mind your equipment being carried through enemy territory by a crippled looking robot that can be heard by every one of your enemies in a three mile radius.
Of course, as technology advances, the Big Dog will only get faster and quieter. But even then, what do these things have on a vehicle that does the same thing and has four wheels? We mean besides a few million dollars in development costs, and the guarantee that someone's going to try to ride it like a horse within its first 10 minutes on the ground.
In 1936, memories of the blood-soaked trenches were still fresh in the minds of a generation. With clouds gathering on the horizon in Europe, Texan inventor A.J. Richardson knew what would win the next world war. It was gonna take balls. Big balls to be precise. The logic is flawless: If it can keep a hamster safe from a house cat, surely it was qualified to roll out into No Man's Land during the most destructive and sophisticated war of its time.
Based on the above diagram, everything seems to be above board. Obviously there wouldn't be a giant hole in the side, so they seem to have the three guys inside the hamster ball covered pretty well. But take a gander at the ball in action, and you begin to see the problem.
The look and aiming ability of a testicle.
Without the helpful window diagram, you'll notice that the guys inside have no way of seeing what the hell's going on outside. And while that may be just aces for them, what about the poor bastard with the smoking gun directly over his left ear. Or any other friendly troop that happened to be in a mile radius of the guys blindly machine gunning everything in all directions from inside a giant marble. And even if he could see, we'd be highly suspicious of the precision of the two machine guns poking out of the center of the ball, one firing haphazardly into the sky and the other into the ground.
When the Germans finally got around to building a prototype, all we ever got was a sorry stripped down version that doesn't seem to be good for much beyond motion sickness.
Ever feel the need to combine the intimidation of a big-ass cannon with the utter laughability of a scooter? Well you're not alone. It was this need, along with the shadowy influence of the Vespa-military-industrial complex, that drove the French to design the ACMA Troupes Aerol Portees Mle. 56.
The "big gun, little scooter" concept was intended to give paratroopers light artillery support, and hundreds of these things actually saw duty in Algeria and Indochina. And if you're thinking that firing this thing while driving would be suicidal, take heart: well-trained gun crews could apparently pull it off, officially performing the most badass feat to involve a scooter since you last nose-stalled on a dead hooker in GTA: Vice City.
Hello, Europeans (Our spyware tells us you're out there)! You know when you're tearing around Rome or Paris on your Vespa and you've got your bald friend who dresses like he's from the future riding on the back? You dip to turn left and he sits upright. He dips right while you're banking left. It's a pain in the ass to try to steer that thing with him back there, right? Now imagine if instead of listening to trance music on his iPod, he was firing a heavy artillery canon that your balls were resting directly on top of.
For our American audience, you know how your heavy artillery cannon is much tougher to aim when it's embedded up to its balls in a parked scooter?
But hey, if French gun crews could pull it off, it's apparently possible. So fear not, with enough practice, you too could be speeding directly forward into whatever you just turned into a ball of flaming rubble in no time.
For military insanity, check out 6 "Non-Lethal" Weapons That'll Make You Wish You Were Dead and 7 Insane Military Attempts To Weaponize Animals.
And visit Cracked.com's Top Picks to see the crazy boob-inspired weapon we're working on.