Military-man’s best friend: DARPA-funded AlphaDog preps for further testing

Military-man's-best-friend-DARPA-funded-AlphaDog-preps-for-further-testing

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.

LS3_concept

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:

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: DIY smartphones and zip-on bike tires

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Smart Home

Brew it fast, hot, and flavorful with our favorite coffee makers

Whether you're looking for a simple coffee maker to get you through the morning or a high-end brewer that will impress your taste buds and your friends, you'll find some of the best coffee makers around on this list.
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix in October, from 'Mindhunter’ to ‘The Good Place’

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.
Movies & TV

The best movies on Netflix in October, from 'The Witch’ to ‘Black Panther’

Save yourself from hours wasted scrolling through Netflix's massive library by checking out our picks for the streamer's best movies available right now, whether you're into explosive action, subdued humor, or anything in between.
Emerging Tech

This gadget lets you sleep on airplanes without snuggling a stranger

Odd gadget, or a hug for your face? The Napup Fly+ is a travel pillow, sleep mask, and personal speaker system all rolled into one, attached to the back of the headrest to hold your head up.
Emerging Tech

From flying for fun to pro filmmaking, these are the best drones you can buy

In just the past few years, drones have transformed from a geeky hobbyist affair to a full-on cultural phenomenon. Here's a no-nonsense rundown of the best drones you can buy right now, no matter what kind of flying you plan to do.
Emerging Tech

Healthy mice born from two genetic mothers using stem cells, gene editing

Healthy mice have been born from two genetics mothers and later went on to bear healthy offspring of their own, according to a recent paper published by researchers at the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
Emerging Tech

Japanese scientists are chewing over an ‘electric gum’ that never loses flavor

Researchers at Japan's Meiji University may have found the secret to unlimited chewing gum -- and it just involves zapping your tongue with electricity. Here's what makes it all work.
Smart Home

Vector, the engaging Alexa-like robot, is ready to roam around your home

Anyone who has ever watched Short Circuit or WALL-E has surely dreamed about having a robot buddy come live with them. Finally, that dream is now a reality. It's name is Vector, and it's available now.
Emerging Tech

Ekster 3.0 lets you ask, ‘Alexa, where did I leave my wallet?’

Ekster's newest smart wallet is its best yet. It's slimmer than ever, boasts a neat card-dispensing mechanism, and will even let you know where it is, thanks to smart speaker integration.
Emerging Tech

Johns Hopkins’ lab-grown human retina could lead to big insights

Scientists from Johns Hopkins University have successfully grown human retina tissue from scratch in a lab. The work could help with the development of new therapeutics related to eye diseases.
Wearables

Skydio’s self-flying drone now has an Apple Watch app for flight prep

Skydio's clever R1 autonomous drone now has its own Apple Watch app, making flight preparations simpler than ever. The $2,000 flying machine is now also selling at its first retail outlet — Apple Stores in North America.
Emerging Tech

Light-swallowing room promises Call of Duty fans the blackest of ops

What's it like to be in a room fully painted with the world's darkest material, Vantablack? The makers of one of the year's top video games teamed up with Vantablack scientists to find out.
Emerging Tech

Are e-cigarettes safe? Here’s what the most recent science says

Ecigarettes are widely regarded and advertised as a healthier alternative to cigarettes for people who are trying to kick the smoking habit. How safe are these cigarette alternatives? We went deep into the recent scientific literature to…