Boston Dynamics and DARPA introduced the quadruped robot known as BigDog a few years ago, and have worked to improve it ever since. The latest incarnation of the robotic pack mule is the LS3, which obeys spoken commands! The LS3 is also known as AlphaDog. The purpose of the robot is to relieve troops of the heavy gear they must carry.
Today’s dismounted warfighter can be saddled with more than 100 pounds of gear, resulting in physical strain, fatigue and degraded performance. Reducing the load on dismounted warfighters has become a major point of emphasis for defense research and development, because the increasing weight of individual equipment has a negative impact on warfighter readiness. The Army has identified physical overburden as one of its top five science and technology challenges. To help alleviate physical weight on troops, DARPA is developing a four-legged robot, the Legged Squad Support System (LS3), to integrate with a squad of Marines or Soldiers.
LS3 seeks to demonstrate that a highly mobile, semi-autonomous legged robot can carry 400 lbs of a squad’s load, follow squad members through rugged terrain and interact with troops in a natural way, similar to a trained animal and its handler.