Watch the military's creepy robotic mule follow a human leader

Remember AlphaDog, the mechanical pack mule built by the roboticists at Boston Dynamics in conjunction with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)?


Well, the brains behind the Legged Squad Support System (LS3) have released new footage of this upgraded robotic quadruped autonomously trailing its human masters through the wilderness. Explains DARPA of the LS3 program's new bells and whistles:

The goal of the LS3 program is to demonstrate that a legged robot can unburden dismounted squad members by carrying their gear, autonomously following them through rugged terrain, and interpreting verbal and visual commands [...] Today's demo also exhibited reduced noise levels for the robots. "LS3 is now roughly 10 times quieter than when the platform first came online, so squad members can carry on a conversation right next to it, which was difficult before," [Army Lt. Col. Joe Hitt] said.

"Other improvements include the ability to go from a 1- to 3-mph walk and trot over rough, rocky terrain, easily transition to a 5-mph jog and, eventually, a 7-mph run over flat surfaces, showing the versatility needed to accompany dismounted units in various terrains," Hitt said.

DARPA will next be coordinating with the US Marine Corp for further testing, presumably to slap on some more holy-moley-this-is-actually-reality accoutrements, like bazooka longhorns or perhaps the fabled Gatorade udder.

[DARPA via Danger Room]


Corpore Metal

I assume that this robomule costs less to fuel and maintain than a real mule or horse?

I know that eventually it will but I'm just wondering how close we are to that goal. I just want some hard numbers.