Today’s dismounted soldier can be saddled with more than 45 kg of gear, resulting in physical strain, fatigue and degraded performance. For obvious reasons, reducing this load has become a major focus in defence research and development. In fact, the US Army has identified physical overburden as one of its top five science and technology challenges.
To help alleviate the problem, America’s Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is developing a four legged robot called the Legged Squad Support System, or LS3, to integrate with a squad of US Marines or soldiers. LS3 seeks to demonstrate that a highly mobile, semi-autonomous legged robot can carry 180 kg of a squad’s load, follow squad members through rugged terrain and interact with troops in a natural way, much like a trained animal and its handler.
The LS3 programme’s goal is to develop a robot that can traverse the same terrain the squad goes through without hindering its mission. The robot could also serve as a mobile auxiliary power source, enabling troops to recharge batteries for radios and handheld devices while on patrol.
After seeing this thing in action (in a video), we have to say that we’d hate to have it follow us.