Boston Dynamics’ Big Dog walking military robot (video).

A couple of years from now a developmental team headed…

A couple of years from now a developmental team headed by Boston Dynamics, an engineering company specializing in robotics, will produce a four-legged prototype robot with the size, weight and load-carrying capability of a strong pony. The program, slated for 30 months with a $32-million budget from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), kicked off in January and will produce the Legged Squad Support System (LS3).

This idea is anything but far-fetched. Boston Dynamics already has produced a smaller robotic quadruped under a similar DARPA contract. Dubbed BigDog, the robotic pack carrier uses a 15-horsepower internal combustion engine that powers a sophisticated combination of computer-controlled, hydraulically actuated legs, sensors, controls and communication systems that enable the device to mimic the motions and reactions of an animal with the ability to travel over very rough terrain. No robot can yet traverse the roughest terrain a human can, although performing at that level is a long-term goal. A succession of prototypes has demonstrated the basic design concepts of the quadruped robot.

Read more in Special Weapons for Military and Police.

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