Robot Mule May Soon Carry Soldiers' Equipment

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Our soldiers could soon get a helping hand in carrying gear thanks to a robotic mule.

DARPA is testing a robotic mule that that will be able to carry 400 pounds of gear on a rough 20 mile trip without being refueled. The robot is called “LS3” and is a four-legged, headless beast of a robot.

DARPA is hoping that the robot will someday be able to follow voice commands and follow troops into the thick of combat.

The YouTube video description details the robot:

To help alleviate the impact of excess weight on troops, DARPA is developing a highly mobile, semi-autonomous four-legged robot, the Legged Squad Support System (LS3). LS3 includes onboard sensors to perceive obstacles in its environment and path-planning capabilities to avoid them. The LS3 platform is designed with the squad in mind and is therefore significantly quieter, faster and has a much higher carrying capacity for longer mission durations than DARPA's earlier mobility technology demonstrator BigDog.

"If successful, this could provide real value to a squad while addressing the military’s concern for unburdening troops," said Army Lt. Col. Joe Hitt, program manager DARPA. "LS3 seeks to have the responsiveness of a trained animal and the carrying capacity of a mule."

The LS3 also acts as a mobile recharging station for troops needing to recharge batteries for radios, tablets or laptops.

An 18-month test period will kick off this summer. If successful, it will deployed with Marines stationed around the world.

Have a video of the new robot in action:

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