Marines Develop A Robotic Pack Mule
The robot wars are coming! The military has been working with robotics companies and scientists for years to develop combat-ready robots to help in the nation’s defense. Yesterday, DARPA’s Legged Squad Support System (LS3) program showed off their new “pack mule” prototype that will help soldiers to “carrying their gear, autonomously following them through rugged terrain, and interpreting verbal and visual commands.”
Check out video of the robot in action:
Just looking at the new prototype feels creepy as it stands up on four legs and mimics the actions of a real horse or mule. “The vision for LS3 is to combine the capabilities of a pack mule with the intelligence of a trained animal,” said Army Lt. Col. Joe Hitt, DARPA program manager during the robot’s field test.
These autonomous “pack mules” will be very beneficial to ending the needless slaughter of real mules or horses in combat. The LS3 is now quieter as it runs up to 7 MPH on flat surfaces. As for the LS3’s stability, Hitt said:
The LS3 has demonstrated it is very stable on its legs, but if it should tip over for some reason, it can automatically right itself, stand up and carry on. LS3 also has the ability to follow a human leader and track members of a squad in forested terrain and high brush.
In July, DARPA started a 2-year contract with the US Marines to continue to develop autonomous robots like the LS3 as more tests of their robots are scheduled for December 2012. This is part of the Marine Corps Advanced Warfighting Experiment that will see plans to embed the LS3 on every military base throughout the US.