Boston Dynamics LS3: The Mechanized Follower
Boston Dynamics has recently uncovered its latest creation, a robotic quadruped that is able to follow soldiers on battlefields for up to 20 miles, on a single charge.
This is not the first time I write about the projects of Boston Dynamics, but I have to admit that each time they make the news, some terrific advancements are announced. Coming from a robotics design company, such news deserve a lot of appreciation, even though the final products will most probably get to be used on battlefields. To give you an example about how serious this company is about designing their robots, one of its recent creations, called Cheetah, broke the world speed record for robots. The latest project, LS3 or AlphaDog, as it is also known, is an all terrain robot capable of carrying very heavy loads on rather long distances, fact that makes it more of the modern day equivalent of a mule, rather than a dog. In late 2011, another colleague of mine, here at Walyou, wrote about AlphaDog Proto, the predecessor of LS3, or rather the same project in its initial phases.
In fewer words, LS3 is a monstrosity that would intimidate even the toughest enemies. It does not need to carry heavy weaponry the scare them to death, it only needs to show up.
As Army Lt. Col. Joe Hitt, DARPA program manager, declared, “The vision for LS3 is to combine the capabilities of a pack mule with the intelligence of a trained animal. LS3 is now roughly 10 times quieter than when the platform first came online, so squad members can carry on a conversation right next to it, which was difficult before. Other improvements include the ability to go from a 1- to 3-mph walk and trot over rough, rocky terrain, easily transition to a 5-mph jog and, eventually, a 7-mph run over flat surfaces, showing the versatility needed to accompany dismounted units in various terrains. The LS3 has demonstrated it is very stable on its legs, but if it should tip over for some reason, it can automatically right itself, stand up and carry on. LS3 also has the ability to follow a human leader and track members of a squad in forested terrain and high brush.”
LS3 is capable of conveying a load of 400 pounds, so if you ever get tired of carrying around your rocket launcher and a sack full of grenades, you can entrust them to AlphaDog. The only thing you need to do afterwards is to make sure that a projectile does not hit it, cause the New Year’s Eve fireworks are nothing compared to the spectacle you would see in such a situation. As of December, LS3 will take part in Marine exercises, so don’t fret if you see this robot in a war near you in the not so distant future.