Robotics

DARPA releases video of new-and-improved LS3 quadruped robots

DARPA releases video of new-an...
The two new LS3 prototypes, showing their stuff in DARPA's video
The two new LS3 prototypes, showing their stuff in DARPA's video
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One of the new LS3s, "at rest" in Virginia
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One of the new LS3s, "at rest" in Virginia
One of the new LS3s in yesterday's demonstration
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One of the new LS3s in yesterday's demonstration
The two new LS3 prototypes, showing their stuff in DARPA's video
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The two new LS3 prototypes, showing their stuff in DARPA's video

Fans of freaky-looking robots will already be familiar with DARPA’s quadruped Legged Squad Support System, or LS3 (although it’s also known as Big Dog by its builder, Boston Dynamics). Yesterday, two prototypes of an improved version of the LS3 were demonstrated, and DARPA has posted the video to show off what’s new.

The basic purpose of the LS3 is to serve as a sort of pack mule, carrying heavy gear for troops over rugged, varying terrain. It can follow them autonomously, and respond to verbal and visual commands.

Among the improvements in the new version of the robot is reduced operating noise – it is approximately one-tenth as loud as the original version, allowing soldiers walking next to it to carry on a regular conversation.

One of the new LS3s in yesterday's demonstration
One of the new LS3s in yesterday's demonstration

According to DARPA program manager Lt. Col. Joe Hitt, “Other improvements include the ability to go from a 1- to 3-mph [1.6 to 4.8 km/h] walk and trot over rough, rocky terrain, easily transition to a 5-mph [8 km/h] jog and, eventually, a 7-mph [11.3 km/h] run over flat surfaces, showing the versatility needed to accompany dismounted units in various terrains.” As can be seen in the video below, the new robot’s ability to right itself after falling over was also showcased.

Yesterday’s demonstration was mainly for the benefit of Commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. James F. Amos, and DARPA Director, Arati Prabhakar. It took place at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, in Virginia.

Source: DARPA via PopSci

DARPA Legged Squad Support System (LS3) Demonstrates New Capabilities

26 comments
Pikeman
Real pack mule can provide companionship and/or be emergency rations.
livin_the_dream
looks like it could do with losing a few pounds!!! still it's great to see such innovation, moving forward it could mean greater mobility for less able individuals?
Oztechi
I am a bit surprised that it is still quite noisy and still very inefficient compared with a horse or donkey. It might be worth using with a few more years refinement.
EUbrainwashing
The difference between this and a horse/mule/ass is its ability to work remotely to the operator, potentially carry a greater payload and you cannot mount weapons to a horse - it will react badly when a gun starts firing. For a simple efficient and flexible means of carrying an average load over rough terrain in support of personnel a mule is still a handy solution. It will not be long before robotic devices such as this conduct routine patrols and even see fighting drones engage an enemy.
Tommo
Where does the fuel tanker go behind it?
John Pescod
The enemy would hear them coming for miles!!
MBadgero
A real mule could eat grass at the side of the road. Not sure if this thing is bulletproof or not. Maybe they should look into body armor for mules.
Pikeman
re; EUbrainwashing You can train pack animals to ignore the sounds of war; it is in fact not particularly difficult once you accept that a percentage of them simply are not suitable. New York City has mounted police and from the horses perspective an urbane environment is not that different from a war zone. It should not be too difficult to design a remote control unit for a horse or mule. All it would take is a smart phone, ear-buds, a few vibro-pads, and a solar collector to keep it charged.
Buellrider
Pretty weird. Should of used a Honda generator because they are super quiet.
Mirmillion
Interesting project and a little bit of a nod to the future autonomous warfare described in countless movies such as The Terminator...the only difference is that this threat is home-grown, not from another solar system.