Take a look at the Legged Squad Support System (LS3) robot pack animal from Boston Dynamics. The following recent video shows the progress on the device, which was commissioned by DARPA in 2010 (see the majestic original LS3 concept drawing).
And now the video of LS3, which weighs in at 800 pounds and can carry 400 pounds of gear over twenty miles of uneven terrain.
Two completed prototypes have much quieter engines than the earlier design, new gaits and improved sensory perception...
The LS3 has a camera sensor system that provides the “eyes” it needs to make smart decisions about where it should go on a wild terrain. “Ears” for the LS3 are also on the way, so the robot can to respond to simple commands.
The robotic pack mules will now undergo two more years of field testing with the military that will be topped off with a Marine Corps Advanced Warfighting Experiment where the LS3 will be embedded with a Marine squad for an operational exercise.
“We’ve refined the LS3 platform and have begun field testing against requirements of the Marine Corps,” said Army Lt. Col. Joe Hitt, DARPA program manager. “The vision for LS3 is to combine the capabilities of a pack mule with the intelligence of a trained animal.”
SF readers have been waiting for quadruped robotic helpers, thanks to Anthony Boucher's 1951 short story The Quest for Saint Aquin:
He... took his first opportunity to inspect the robass in full light. He admired the fast-plodding, articulated legs, so necessary since roads had degenerated... the side wheels that could be lowered into action if surface conditions permitted; and above all the smooth black mound that housed the electronic brain - the brain that stored commands and data concerning ultimate objectives and made its own decisions on how to fulfill those commands in view of those data...
(Read more about the robass)
Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 9/13/2012)