Presently, armies consider physical overload to be one of the major challenges in the war-fighting scenario. Researchers at DARPA have created a semi-autonomous legged robot dubbed the Legged Squad Support System (LS3), to be used by teams of soldiers or marines.
This robot has a built-in sensor that allows it to distinguish between inanimate objects like trees or rocks and human beings too. In the following 18 months, the team believes that the system could be used to support troops of soldiers.
The researchers are currently trialing the mechanism for its ability to withstand 400lbs on a 20-mile journey in a span of 24 hours without necessitating reactivation or refueling. The vision sensors incorporated into the device have to perform the task of identifying the barriers in the path and automatically decide the course of action thereafter.
“If successful, this could provide real value to a squad while addressing the military’s concern for unburdening troops. LS3 seeks to have the responsiveness of a trained animal and the carrying capacity of a mule,” shared Army Lt. Col. Joe Hitt, DARPA program manager.
According to the investigators, LS3 can carry heavy loads from dismounted members of the squad, follow them through tough conditions and execute the commands of the fighters naturally. It could serve just as an animal functioning along with a handler.
LS3 takes advantage of mobility technology promoted by DARPA’s Big Dog technology demonstrator. It is consistent with other robotic avenues that generated the sense of perception into the eyes and ears of the robot. The 18-month platform-refinement test phase to be conducted with the Army and Marine is expected to begin in summer.