DARPA Completes Giant Robotic ‘AlphaDog”
US military bosses today showed off the latest tricks they have taught a giant robotic dog.
Officially named LS3 but dubbed AlphaDog, the four-legged, autonomous robot can follow a soldier, and is designed to carry heavy equipment.
‘LS3 seeks to demonstrate that a highly mobile, semi-autonomous legged robot can carry 400 lbs of a squadâ€™s load, follow squad members through rugged terrain and interact with troops in a natural way, similar to a trained animal and its handler,’ the Darpa agency said.
It revealed tests with Marines have already begun.
The robots could one day become a common sight on the battlefield as they track soldiers, working together in packs to carry heavy equipment through rough terrain
‘Weâ€™ve refined the LS3 platform and have begun field testing against requirements of the Marine Corps,’ said Army Lt. Col. Joe Hitt, DARPA program manager.
‘This was the first time DARPA and MCWL were able to get LS3 out on the testing grounds together to simulate military-relevant training conditions.
‘The robotâ€™s performance in the field expanded on our expectations, demonstrating, for example, how voice commands and ‘follow the leader’ capability would enhance the robotâ€™s ability to interact with warfighters.
‘We were able to put the robot through difficult natural terrain and test its ability to right itself with minimal interaction from humans.’
The robots have been in development for several years, and are built by Boston Dynamics, who also develop other robotic animals
Video from the testing shows the robot negotiating diverse terrain including ditches, streams, wooded slopes and simulated urban environments.
The video also shows the map the LS3 perception system creates to determine the path it takes.
‘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.
The December testing at Fort Pickett is the first in a series of planned demonstrations that will test the robotâ€™s capabilities across different environments as development continues through the first half of 2014.