How Military Robots Work

Small Bots: MATILDA
MATILDA with mechanical arm
MATILDA with mechanical arm

MATILDA (Mesa Associates' Tactical Integrated Light-Force Deployment Assembly), made by Mesa Robotics, is similar to other small robot designs but has a higher profile due to its triangular tread shape. It weighs 61 lbs (28 kg) with the batteries, can be carried by one or two people and fits in the trunk of a car.

MATILDA has numerous possible configurations. For instance, it can be equipped with a mechanical arm or a variety of cameras and sensors, and it can even tow a small trailer.

Three of MATILDA's possible configurations

The robot has a top speed of 3 feet (1 meter) per second and a single-charge run time of four to six hours. In the event of tread damage, the quick-change tracks can be swapped in about five minutes.

Matilda Manipulator
Photo courtesy Mesa Robotics

MATILDA Specifications


  • Width: 21 inches (53 cm); Height: 12 inches (30 cm); Length: 30 inches (76 cm)
  • Weight: 61 pounds (28 kg)
  • Power: Four rechargeable 12-volt DV NiMH battery packs
  • Run time: four to six hours per charge
  • Speed: 3 feet per second (1 m/s)
  • Payload bay dimensions: 13.5x16.5 inches (34.3x41.9 cm)
  • Payload capacity: 150 lbs (68 kg)
  • Towing capacity: 475 lbs (215 kg)
  • RF and fiber-optic control

Briefcase Operator Control Unit

  • Weight: 25 lbs (11 kg)
  • Power: 12-volt DC NiMH, 12-volt AC adapter
  • 12.1-inch (30.7-cm) daylight-readable screen
  • Four control joysticks

Handheld Operator Control Unit

  • Weight: 23 lbs (10 kg)
  • Power: 12-volt DC NiMH, 12-volt AC adapter
  • 6.4-inch (16.3-cm) daylight-readable display
  • Two control joysticks

Track Types

  • Slick
  • Multi-purpose
  • Ice and snow

*Source: Mesa Robotics: Performance Specifications and Features

Mesa Robotics is also developing the lightweight MAUD robot and the low-cost MARV, a treaded robot designed to be expendable.

Photo courtesy Mesa Robotics
MAUD weighs less than 30 pounds (14 kg).
Photo courtesy Mesa Robotics

In the next section, we'll learn about some larger military robots.