Back in October, we gave you a look at Boston Dynamic’s four legged creation the LS3 — Legged Squad Support Systems — also known as AlphaDog, which was equal parts scary and amazing.
For those that may be unfamiliar with Boston Dynamics’s robotic Rover, the DARPA-funded robot was designed to lift – er, carry – the burden of soldiers by effectively slugging around their equipment over rough terrain. As many active and former soldiers may already know, carrying around equipment can decrease mobility and cause further fatigue, especially when out in the field. Boston Dynamic’s AlphaDog’s primary focus is to alleviate some of that burden with a maximum carrying capacity of 400 pounds and a range of 20 miles.
That’s not all though; the headless robotic hound can also perform a variety of tricks and advanced maneuvers (for a robot, anyways), like jumping over obstacles, traversing uneven terrain, and picking itself up after being knocked over. Perhaps most impressive is its ability to operate with a great deal of autonomy — not bad for a robotic dog without a noggin.
Boston Dynamics LS3 AlphaDog was designed to be the successor of its previous design, the creatively named BigDog, which, contrary to what its name suggests, was unable to maintain its position at the head of Boston Dynamic’s robotic dog pack.
Where the BigDog was much louder and only able to carry a total weight of 340 pounds, AlphaDog operates at a much stealthier noise level and, as mentioned, can carry more pounds than its predecessor.
Given the success of recent tests, it would seem that DARPA and Boston Dynamics certainly have an impressive piece of technology on their hands — one that could greatly augment and assist a soldier’s ability to operate in and around the battlefield.
In addition to the already-remarkable feats accomplished by this faceless Fido, DARPA also wants to add some more organic abilities to AlphaDog’s repertoire, such as allowing it to recognize speech commands, like “stop,” “sit,” or “come here.” AlphaDog can also operate as mobile power source where troops can recharge batteries for radios and handheld devices.
“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, DARPA program manager, in a statement. “LS3 [AlphaDog] seeks to have the responsiveness of a trained animal and the carrying capacity of a mule.”
According to DARPA, the 18-month field testing phase will being this summer when the LS3 will embed with Marines conducting field exercises.
Check out the video below to see AlphaDog in action: