Military robot one step closer to the battlefield

IDG News Service | Jul 15, 2014

The robotic mule, which was developed by Boston Dynamics for $2 million can traverse rugged terrain while carrying much of the Marines' load. Follow reporter Nick Barber on Twitter @nickjb

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Video: US Department of Defense
A military robot is one step closer to the battlefield. In the works for five years, the Legged Squad Support System or LS3 was tested out by five marines in a training exercise in Hawaii. The robotic mule, which was developed by Boston Dynamics for 2 million dollars can traverse rugged terrain while carrying much of the Marines' load.

Since it is quite loud with its gas powered engine, it will be use for logistical operations rather than tactical ones. It can carry gear, weapons or water and according to the Marines, accompany them through about 80 percent of the terrain they cover.

Lance Corporal Brandon Dieckmann is in charge of the robot and recalled seeing YouTube videos of it even before enlisting. His company calls the robot Cujo, after the rabid dog in a Stephen King novel.

The robot can be commanded with a handheld controller, but it's also able to follow the Marines. Here Dieckmann attached a device to his foot which drops virtual breadcrumbs for the LS3 to follow.

Boston Dynamics said that with feedback from the Marines, the company's engineers will further refine the LS3.

Nick Barber, IDG News Service.