DARPA funding Boston Dynamics to build Legged Squad Support System
Finally, machines that can walk. Be sure to check out the video at the end of the article to watch this four-legged mechanical creature follow the soldier down the hill. How far are we from mechanized four-legged creatures that soldiers will ride into battle? The horse – your time is limited.
LS3 stands for Legged Squad Support System, and that pretty much sums up what the device is all about: It’s a semi-autonomous assistant designed to follow soldiers and Marines across the battlefield, carrying up to 400 pounds of gear and enough fuel to keep it going for 24 hours over a march of 20 miles.
LS3 is a direct descendant of BigDog, and it’ll be battle-hardened and clever enough to use GPS and machine vision to either yomp along behind a pack of troops, or navigate its own way to a pre-programmed assembly point. Yup, that’s right, LS3 is smart enough to trot off over the horizon all on its lonesome. That opens up all sorts of amazing military possibilities, like resupply of materiel to troops who are deployed in difficult remote locations, as well as the standard “If LS3 can offload 50 pounds from the back of each soldier in a squad, it will reduce warfighter injuries and fatigue and increase the combat effectiveness of our troops” as described by BD’s president Marc Raibert.