More funding to develop robotic mule


The innovative American engineering firm that created a robotic mule for military use has received further defense funding for the project, it has been reported.

Boston Dynamics describe the LS3, or Legged Squad Support System, as a  four-legged rough-terrain robot designed to go anywhere marines and soldiers go on foot, helping carry their load.

Dynamic duo: A pair of LS3 robots strut their stuff. Photo: Boston Dynamics
Dynamic duo: A pair of LS3 robots strut their stuff. Photo: Boston Dynamics

Each LS3 can carry up to 400 pounds of gear and enough fuel for a 20-mile mission lasting 24 hours.

The LS3 can automatically follow its leader using computer vision, so does not need a dedicated driver.

It can also travels to designated locations using terrain sensing and GPS.

The robot began a two-year field-testing phase in 2012, and a quieter diesel version was recently unveiled.

Reports suggest that the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), a government agency, is stumping up $US10 million for more development.

DARPA is said to be after increased reliability and usability, and it wants the LS3 to be more bullet-proof. It also wants a quieter version, presumably to help keep troop movements under the radar.

The new version is not likely to be seen until early in 2015, but current versions are likely to be involved in military exercises in Hawaii next summer.

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