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Four-legged robots strut their stuff for military demo

14 September 2012

Earlier this week, DARPA’s Legged Squad Support System (LS3) programme demonstrated two robotic pack mule prototypes before some top brass from the US military.

The first platform underwent its initial outdoor test earlier this year and has matured through continual testing and improvements to the point that two functioning platforms have started to run through the paces similar to those they may one day experience carrying gear for a squad of marines or soldiers.

The goal of the LS3 programme is to demonstrate that a legged robot can unburden dismounted squad members by carrying their gear, autonomously following them through rugged terrain, and interpreting verbal and visual commands.

During the demonstration, the LS3 prototype completed trotting and jogging mobility runs, perception visualization demonstration and a soldier-bounded autonomy demonstration.

Today’s demo also showed reduced noise levels for the robots. LS3 is now roughly ten times quieter than when the platform first came online.

The robots have the ability to go from a 1 to 3mph walk and trot over rough, rocky terrain, moving to a 5mph jog and, eventually, a 7mph run over flat surfaces. 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.

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