The humble packhorse may soon be a thing of the past, with the development of Boston Dynamic’s new horse-like rough-terrain robot.
The Legged Squad Support System (LS3) was developed by Boston Dynamics with funding from the US Marine Corps and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.
The Massachusetts-based firm says the LS3 was designed with military use in mind, and is able to go anywhere that soldiers and marines go on foot.
Each LS3 can carry up to 400lbs of gear and enough fuel for missions covering 20 miles and lasting 24 hours.
The LS3 does not need a driver, because it can automatically follow a leader using computer vision, or travel to designated locations using sensing and GPS.
Boston Dynamics assembled a skilled team to develop the LS3, including not only its own engineers and scientists, but experts from Bell Helicopter, AAI Corporation, Carnegie Mellon, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and Woodward HRT.
The LS3 can negotiate the roughest of terrain, including tackling steep hills and bush-covered terrain.
The accompanying video suggests it may not yet have the stealth-like qualities of a packhorse, however.
Boston Dynamics is an engineering company that specializes in building dynamic robots and software for human simulation.
The company began as a spin-off from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where National Academy of Engineering member Marc Raibert and his colleagues first developed robots that ran and maneuvered like animals.
They founded the company in 1992, and their ground-breaking work continues to inspire several of the company’s activities.
Today it creates a several innovative robots, including BigDog, a quadruped robot for travel on rough-terrain; PETMAN, an anthropomorphic robot for testing equipment; RISE, a robot that climbs vertical surfaces; SquishBot, a shape-changing chemical robot that moves through tight space, and many others.
More information: www.BostonDynamics.com.