DARPA’s New Robot Will Follow You Into The Woods

By Brent McKnight | Published

This article is more than 2 years old

We’re now one step closer to being mauled by a giant robotic animal controlled by a nerdy warlord. Thanks to Boston Dynamics, with a funding assist from DARPA and the US Marines, for fueling my upcoming nightmares. Back in September we previously reported on the Legged Squad Supporter (LS3), which essentially a big, mechanical pack mule. Designed to carry 400 pounds of supplies over rough, uneven terrain, it is intended to serve as troop support, and as an additional power outlet for soldiers in the field.

Because of the planned use, LS3 requires a very specific set of skills. It must be able to remain stable on rugged ground, as well as be dexterous enough to maneuver through tight situations, in both urban and wilderness settings. Not an easy feat to accomplish, the Boston Dynamics folks are constantly working to improve on these abilities. Compare the first video to this new one, and you can definitely see the strides they’ve made in that regard. The prototype is much more nimble, and so much more surefooted on the unstable ground. Great, now it’s even faster, has better traction, and is more nimble.

The LS3’s follow-the-leader capacity also features more prominently in this video, specifically the new “follow tight” voice command. You see it responding to voice commands, selecting the best route, and even making decisions about where to go and which avenue to choose. You also get a glimpse at how it takes in data from it surroundings and interprets it. That’s terrifying.

Seriously, it’s like we want to at the hands of renegade robots that we created and then unleashed upon the world. Why do we keep making them better?

When the LS3 takes that tumble down a hill, it gets right back up again and keeps on truckin’. That means simply knocking it down won’t stop it from coming after you. If we want to live through this one, we better start studying their weaknesses now.

LS3 does have a jaunty prance to its movement, which is pretty funny, but it won’t seem quite so hilarious when it’s prancing after you and your family with murder in its cold, robotic eyes.