What are Bolo Tanks ?
Bolo's are fictional artificially intelligent super-heavy tanks. They were described in science fiction books by Keith Laumer.
Online books have the specifications for the different bolo models.
Bolo Mark X 350 tons Laser cannon, railguns, missiles, preloaded computer
Bolo Mark XII 500 tons Intercontinental missiles, surface to space missiles
Bolo Mark XIII 565 tons Fission powered engine, laser cannon
Bolo Mark XIV 728-900tons Fusion powered engine, hellbore weapon (half
megaton/sec plasma gun = 2.1 petajoules/sec)
Adapting Existing Equipment
We can start by adapting a factory for the biggest mining trucks or the large military hovercrafts.
The Caterpillar 797B is an ultra class mining truck manufactured by Caterpillar Inc. The 797B is the largest mechanical dump truck in the world.
They use 50 gallons of diesel per hour and have 13ft tires. Each tire costs $40,000.
Weight 310 tons empty, 690 tons with full load
3500-3750 HP engines
Height: 25 ft (7.6 m)
Length: 47 ft (14.5 m)
Body width: 32 ft (9.8 m)
Fuel capacity: 1,800 US gallons (6,800 L)
Cost: About US$5 million
A Russian Bora class guided missile hovercraft weighs about 1050 tons
Length: 654 ft (19.7 m)
Beam: 17 ft (5.4 m)
Draught: 3.8 ft 8 in (1.4 m)
Speed: 12 knots (14 mph/22 km/h) cruise
55 knots (63 mph/102 km/h) maximum
Range: 2,500 nmi (4,600 km) at 12 knots
800 nmi (1,500 km) at 55 knots
• Twin M10-D1 type gas turbine engines rated at 40,000 horsepower (30,000 kW) bound to two primary three-blade propellers
• Twin M511A reduction gear diesel engines rated at 20,000 horsepower (15,000 kW) bound to two primary three-blade propellers
• Twin M52OM3 auxiliary diesel engines driving superchargers rated at 6,800 horsepower (5,100 kW) used to inflate the skirts
• 2 × Quadruple MT-206ME launchers for 3M-80E "Moskit" marine cruise missiles (or various others)
• 1 × 9K33M "Osa-MA" type surface-to-air missile anti-aircraft defense suite
• 1 × AK-176M automatic 76.2 mm cannon or 1 × AK-100 automatic 100 mm cannon
• 2 × AK-630 30 mm anti-aircraft Gatling cannons
• 16 × 9K38 Igla man-portable shoulder mounted surface-to-air missile launcher sets
• 2 × 14.5 mm naval machine gun mounts
• 1 × DP-64 anti-saboteur grenade launcher
Arming a big mining truck like the guided missile hovercraft is already getting pretty close to a pretty good Bolo tank.
Next technology is coming that matches up with the more futuristic aspects of Bolos.
As is frequently covered at this site Hyperion Power Generation should have 27 MW of electricity factory produced nuclear reactor ready in 2013. One MW is equal to 1341 horsepower. So 27 MW is 36,200 HP. This is 24 times more power than the 1500 HP engine of an M1 tank and is ten times the power of the engines of the big mining trucks. It can run 5 years between reloading the nuclear fuel. The waste that is removed at the end of five years is the size of a softball.
The reactor will have no moving parts and is only about a 1.5 meter on a side cube. It should weigh ten tons or less.
A large conventional diesel engine can generate 89,000 HP and weighs 2000 tons
Railguns and lasers
Megawatt class solid state lasers should be ready in 2012. Each megawatt laser would probably need up to 5 megawatts of the nuclear power plant power to fire because of inefficiency converting electrical to laser energy. This efficiency can be improved with more refined technology such as optical fiber lasers.
Railguns should be ready for test deployment for navy ships in 2012 and an integrated railgun in 2016-2018.
A railgun firing. Current test gun can achieve 32 megajoules of power.
At full capability, the rail gun will be able to fire a a 40-pound projectile more than 200 nautical miles at a muzzle velocity of mach seven and impacting its target at mach five. In contrast, the current Navy gun, MK 45 five-inch gun, has a range of nearly 13 miles. The high velocity projectile will destroy its targets due to its kinetic energy rather than with conventional explosives. The desired railgun would have 64 megajoules to fire. In our proposed real Bolo tank, ultracapacitors would store 3+ seconds of reactor energy for each railgun firing.
Railguns can fire smaller projectiles into space (or make bigger and more powerful railguns). So hitting objects in orbit is possible from a supertank.
Robotic driving and armor
Actual vehicle being developed is the CMU crusher (self driving military vehicle)
The alternative to the "super alloy" of the Bolo would be better ceramic armor or the new durable liquid metal (twice as strong as titanium)
Current progress to autonomous robots is substantially because of better 3d LADAR
More on the DARPA robotic driving systems
There is rapid cost to reduce the cost and increase the effectiveness of graphene and carbon nanotubes for very strong materials by themselves or as additives in to plastics and metals.
Around 2015, a supercomputer using about 20 million embedded microprocessors could deliver 200 petaflops of performance. It would cost about $75 million, and use up to 4 megawatts of power. The supertank could use one that was one tenth as powerful. 400KW of power for a 20 petaflop supercomputer.
AI is getting better and running on a very power computer would make the AI more effective.
The Hyperion nuclear reactor would provide enough power for engine, supercomputer, railgun and lasers. The vehicle would also be big enough to carry missiles and big gatling guns.