A military project to build large robot dogs was granted $32 million for the construction of a prototype on Jan. 26. The Legged Squad Support System (LS3 program) by Boston Dynamics aims to take a load off of soldiers by carrying up to 340 lbs. of supplies.
The funds were granted by a branch of the U.S. military, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). The same agency is also developing several other robot and unmanned drone projects, including the chainsaw-wielding, plant-eating Energetically Autonomous Tactical Robot (EATRTM) that can consume organic materials to refuel itself.
The U.S. Marine Corps Warfighting Lab (MCWL) and DARPA’s Tactical Technology Office (TTO) are working closely on the LS3 program. The technology is expected to be used by the Army, Marines, and Special Forces.
The LS3 program “will explore the development of a mission-relevant quadruped platform scaled to unburden the infantry squad and hence unburden the soldier,” says the Department of Defense (DoD) 2010 budget.
The budget report adds that currently, soldiers sometimes carry more than 100 lbs. of equipment in areas not accessible with “wheeled platforms that support infantry” which affects how well they can fight in the case of an enemy engagement.
The project will use technology from previous “biologically inspired legged platform development efforts,” and “multiple technical approaches will be explored, including electromechanical and hydraulic methods of legged actuation,” says the budget report.
Prior to their 30-month development phase, Boston Dynamics already completed their first prototype, or “alpha male,” called Big Dog. The four-legged, bulky robot stands close to 2.5 feet tall and is 3 feet long.
With the help of a built-in motion tracker, Big Dog is able to follow humans. The 240 lb. robot is able to run 4 mph, which is roughly the same speed a human can run. It can also climb 35-degree slopes, and walk through rubble, mud, snow, and water. The robot has set a record among legged robots for traveling 12.8 miles without needing to refuel or stop.
Rad more of the Epoch Times story by Paul Darin and Joshua Philipp here.