Robot Roadbuilders of the Future

In 1958, it seemed all but inevitable that giant tree-chomping, asphalt-pouring machines would roam across the countryside leaving gleaming interstate highways in their wake.

1 minute read

December 17, 2011, 1:00 PM PST

By Tim Halbur


Artist Arthur Radebaugh projected this vision of future infrastructure-building robots in a newspaper comic strip he inked called Closer Than We Think. Matt Novak of PaleoFuture quotes the text of the original comic strip:

"The forward section of such a road-builder would be a variant of the new jungle-smashing LeTourneau 'tree-crusher' combined with a grader. The middle section would pour concrete in a never-ending flow, with the rear portion leveling the still soft pavement. A line of freighter helicopters would be on hand to feed the behemoth with the material necessary to keep it moving across any type of country."

Novak points to Disney's Magic Highway U.S.A. as a clear influence on Radebaugh:

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