LEAGUE CITY — When Bob Woodcock’s latest creation rolls across a field, it looks a cross between like a toy truck and something made of LEGO bricks.
The 400 horsepower, 13.5-foot-tall machine is called Rescue, Search and Recovery 1. It is a prototype for a vehicle that eventually should be able to do just about everything, its builder said.
On a sunny day last week, the vehicle roamed across an open field, climbing over debris and easily making its way through ruts and mud.
Firefighters from area departments watched the vehicle in action and gave suggestions on improvements.
Woodcock, owner of Critter Gitters and The Shop in League City, said he built the monster truck so that first responders could get through anything that came their way.
Woodcock said the vehicle could help emergency crews fight grass fires, mount rescue missions in high water, carry supplies or simply get to inaccessible areas.
“This thing will drive anywhere,” he said.
The vehicle even floats — although Woodcock points out that he hasn’t tested that feature yet.
Woodcock opened The Shop, his off-road accessories auto shop, in 1985. Through the years, clients have made stranger and stranger requests, which led to bigger vehicles.
About five years ago, Woodcock started thinking about a vehicle that could respond to hurricanes and other disasters.
“We started thinking there might be a market there for something that might help the community,” he said.
Woodcock and his employees have worked on the prototype for about three years. They’ve reached out to local police and fire departments, oil and gas representatives and other industries that might be interested for ideas and suggestions.
“We know how to make it go where it needs to go, but I don’t know what these guys need in it,” he said.
He and his family put several hundred thousand dollars into the prototype, Woodcock said.
And now that it is rolling, the prototype is generating interest, he said
“We can build something that people do need and is not just a toy,” Woodcock said. “We get a little feeling of self pride knowing we are helping somebody out and still making a living.”