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BigDog Robot Gets Much Bigger

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the can-I-keep-him-seargent? dept.

Robotics 158

savuporo writes "Well known Boston Dynamics BigDog prototype now has a bigger brother named 'LS3' or Legged Squad Support System. It's intended to carry heavy loads for long treks and have enough autonomy to follow soldiers around, listen to voice commands and navigate autonomously."

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LOTR Quote (5, Informative)

deathcow (455995) | more than 2 years ago | (#38971271)

The LS3 Moves So Loud, We Could Have Shot It In The Dark

the FUTURE is HERE! ? (1)

Thud457 (234763) | more than 2 years ago | (#38971575)

I'd still prefer to have a flying car.

Although a pack of these trampling your village would be pretty fearsome.
wait, no, make them bigger... 1/2 truck size.

Re:the FUTURE is HERE! ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38971791)

wait, no, make them bigger... 1/2 truck size.

Still too small. I want a 55 metric ton version of this loaded up with advanced composite armors and a variety of weapon systems.
Then, we work on the 2-legged version.
Then the scale! Bigger!

Then the Battletech fans and the Warhammer fans start a small war about whether to work on solar-powered jumpships or try to harness a parallel worldscape filled with eldrich horrors for our long-distance travel.

Strategy and Tactics (5, Insightful)

fyngyrz (762201) | more than 2 years ago | (#38971587)

Thinking about this from the viewpoint of the opposing commander, I'd make this thing the first target. Why? Because the soldier, initially free from carrying some part of their current 100 lb load because of the LS3, will then have to shoulder (whatever is left of) the load -- and they won't have the correct pack, harness, etc. to do it, so it will slow them down even more than the original state of packing the 100 lbs prior to the advent of the LS3. Not to mention that shooting at the LS3 will probably put some highly inconvenient holes in the soldier's equipment.

A properly configured mobile force -- at the individual combatant level -- carries everything it needs in an optimally loaded manner. Start adding in support vehicles -- autonomous or piloted -- and what you have done is put the soldier's supplies at risk, and therefore, likely the mission as well.

OTOH, these would be great in civilian roles. With a decent muffler system...

Seems like a pretty niche role (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38971777)

That's why it would fit in a pretty niche role with the current sound level.

On the front lines in a battlefield? Forget it, due to noise.
Flat terrain in a controlled area? Obviously far better to use wheels.

You could theoretically have these advancing somewhat behind the front lines in uneven terrain, in big packs, especially when you don't have control of the air. Not sure how big a role that is to fit these into, but the US Army is pretty big.

Re:Strategy and Tactics (1)

kiddygrinder (605598) | more than 2 years ago | (#38972159)

all you're really saying is put the expendable gear on this thing and suddenly your guys have less chance of being shot at.

Re:Strategy and Tactics (1)

Em Adespoton (792954) | more than 2 years ago | (#38972659)

If they can reduce the cost of these enough, they could just add hellhound skins and send off an entire pack of these... with some of them being used to deliver attack payloads instead of regular supplies. The enemy combatants will be so busy running from/shooting at these things that the actual ground forces should be able to secure an area in relative safety.

They'd need to program in the attack commands first, of course.

Re:Strategy and Tactics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38972471)

Cue the Mechanical Hound from Fahrenheit 451...

Re:Strategy and Tactics (2)

Dynedain (141758) | more than 2 years ago | (#38972481)

But what about the idea of a supply chain that doesn't need roads?

The US army still trains mules and pack horses and has a remote training facility in the High Sierras. Turns out this was pretty useful for the Afganistan arena. This could be a good replacement for pack animals.

Re:LOTR Quote (1)

sneakyimp (1161443) | more than 2 years ago | (#38971591)

Yeah so much for the element of surprise. Try fighting the VC with that loud beast tagging along.

Yet another reason to ditch petroleum and use electric instead. Hopefully DARPA will invest in energy storage tech.

Re:LOTR Quote (4, Funny)

gandhi_2 (1108023) | more than 2 years ago | (#38971917)

50 comments down there, and not a mention of an AT-AT. For shame, slashdot.

I'll leave now before you all start pulling out your Precious'es.

Re:LOTR Quote (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38971925)

Yeah I'm still trying to figure out what scenario you'd use this thing in.

Apparently there's some job, somewhere between scouting around on foot and driving around in a humvee (or airdropping supplies), that involves carrying around 400lbs of gear over somewhat rugged terrain, in a way that makes you a huge f'ing target.

Oh, and then take away any of those situations where ATV's would've worked.

Re:LOTR Quote (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38972305)

Base construction. These puppies are just as big of targets as construction equipment but unlike a truck (requiring a driver and relatively flat obstacle free land this thing can carry supplies around a newly or still under construction base. The whole time taking the same enemy fire the truck with the driver would be taking.

I think they're advertising to the wrong part of the Army. Light infantry as many have pointed out need to carry everything for a reason. However, the engineering corp could bring supplies and building material via these to environments previously unreachable without needing to plow a road to get to point B.

Of course both rolls are rather moot considering modern wars are fought in the streets, not the forests of Europe.

Awfully Loud (1)

p0p0 (1841106) | more than 2 years ago | (#38971285)

It's a bit bloody loud, isn't it? Ah well, need to start somewhere I suppose. At least this wasn't a tethered demo.

Whatever you call it (2)

SJHillman (1966756) | more than 2 years ago | (#38971331)

Whatever you call it, it's still creepy without anything resembling a head.

Re:Whatever you call it (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38971451)

It does have something resembling a head, actually...

Check out the cut starting at 26 seconds, you'll see a sensor array tracking the man walking in front of it that's vaguely head-like, behind a protective steel cage.

Re:Whatever you call it (1)

SJHillman (1966756) | more than 2 years ago | (#38972041)

Saw that, but it makes it look more like four-legged Houndeye from Half-Life

Re:Whatever you call it (1)

janeil (548335) | more than 2 years ago | (#38971965)

It's intensely creepy, I thought, because they seemed to put furry legs and hooves on the thing! Very borg-like. I just felt sad for the trunk and head of the creature they slaughtered for its legs.

Re:Whatever you call it (1)

Sulphur (1548251) | more than 2 years ago | (#38972081)

Whatever you call it, it's still creepy without anything resembling a head.

Can it be de-feeted?

Re:Whatever you call it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38972805)

Whatever you call it, it's still creepy without anything resembling a head.

Well, it is missing side legs and than as "arachnobot" is ready to scare breath out of any enemy ...

Pack behavior (3, Insightful)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#38971341)

It would be entertaining if it exhibited pack behavior. 30 or 40 of them running around together would be pretty interesting to see.

Re:Pack behavior (1)

rvw (755107) | more than 2 years ago | (#38971567)

It would be entertaining if it exhibited pack behavior. 30 or 40 of them running around together would be pretty interesting to see.

You mean like this [youtube.com] , but then on the ground.

Re:Pack behavior (5, Funny)

Anubis IV (1279820) | more than 2 years ago | (#38971617)

Narrator: See the LS3's in their natural habitat. Once a day these lumbering creatures collect around the petrol pond to hastily drink up their day's supply of the vital fluid.

camera shows a small spark flying out of one LS3

Narrator: LS3's produce small bursts of electricty - sparks - from time to time. These natural occurences are typically benign and merely help to distinguish these graceful creatures from their organic counterparts.

camera shows a close up with the label "dramatic recreation" at the bottom of the screen, showing a spark hitting gasoline

Narrator: However, when these sparks meet with petrol, disaster can strike.

camera pans over the gasoline pond, this time on fire and with wrecked husks of LS3's in it

Narrator: Our crew returned to the gassing hole a mere hour after our initial visit, and already the herd has been ravaged by the fire. The raging inferno has consumed the herd. Such is the natural order of things in the urban jungle. Even so, with the next war, the Department of Defense will place a new order, and the LS3's will once again roam free

Re:Pack behavior (4, Insightful)

LoP_XTC (312463) | more than 2 years ago | (#38971873)

Okay people admit you read this with a slightly British accent in your head :)

Re:Pack behavior (1)

Em Adespoton (792954) | more than 2 years ago | (#38972695)

Actually, my inner voice had an excited Aussie accent...

It then went on to talk about this mechanical snake it found on the way there....

Re:Pack behavior (1)

jeffmeden (135043) | more than 2 years ago | (#38971879)

It sounds pretty benign as long as you have David Attenborough's voice doing the narration...

Re:Pack behavior (1)

Sulphur (1548251) | more than 2 years ago | (#38972137)

Narrator: See the LS3's in their natural habitat. Once a day these lumbering creatures collect around the petrol pond to hastily drink up their day's supply of the vital fluid.

camera shows a small spark flying out of one LS3

Narrator: LS3's produce small bursts of electricty - sparks - from time to time. These natural occurences are typically benign and merely help to distinguish these graceful creatures from their organic counterparts.

camera shows a close up with the label "dramatic recreation" at the bottom of the screen, showing a spark hitting gasoline

Narrator: However, when these sparks meet with petrol, disaster can strike.

camera pans over the gasoline pond, this time on fire and with wrecked husks of LS3's in it

Narrator: Our crew returned to the gassing hole a mere hour after our initial visit, and already the herd has been ravaged by the fire. The raging inferno has consumed the herd. Such is the natural order of things in the urban jungle. Even so, with the next war, the Department of Defense will place a new order, and the LS3's will once again roam free

Sounds like LS3OD.

animated by Gerald Scarfe (1)

Thud457 (234763) | more than 2 years ago | (#38972319)

Actually, I imagined them locating gas stations near the battlefield, ripping up gas pumps, and unreeling rubber proboscises to feed.

Obligatory jarhead joke (4, Funny)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 2 years ago | (#38971345)

It's intended to carry heavy loads for long treks and have enough autonomy to follow soldiers around, listen to voice commands and navigate autonomously

Except for the "navigate autonomously" part, that sounds like a Marine.

Re:Obligatory jarhead joke (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38972261)

Notice it says "listen to voice commands"
Nothing about following them.

Fancy prancer (2)

omems (1869410) | more than 2 years ago | (#38971399)

Look at me, I'm a dandy prancing (headless) pony.
Is there a non-high-stepping mode?
At least one need never worry about it sneaking up and prancing one to death.

Nouveaux-Kings and Elephants (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38971409)

"Only a nouveaux-King would insult another's Ambassador near the rainy season! Elephants cost too much, and are completely useless in the mud!"
There, hope to have shed some light on the subject.

The really big ones in open spaces had better keep an eye out for small drones trailing steel cabes.

Do you ever wonder... (5, Insightful)

Ender_Stonebender (60900) | more than 2 years ago | (#38971421)

Do you ever wonder if it would be cheaper and easier just to go back to using horses? I mean, we've been breeding them for hundreds of years...and I'm sure we could make some Kevlar-and-ceramic armor for them to protect them from bullets and shrapnel...

I suppose the advantage is that robots don't need to trained not to panic in the middle of battle. But I still wonder if chasing a technological solution is the wrong path.

Re:Do you ever wonder... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38971547)

And the horse can go longer than 24h without refuel if you really had to.

Re:Do you ever wonder... (3, Insightful)

fyngyrz (762201) | more than 2 years ago | (#38971611)

And you can eat them, as was commonly done in warfare in the past.

Re:Do you ever wonder... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38971693)

And a horse is a hell of lot quieter.

Re:Do you ever wonder... (1)

elgeeko.com (2472782) | more than 2 years ago | (#38971865)

horses are also really hard for the enemy to hack and use against you.

Re:Do you ever wonder... (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | more than 2 years ago | (#38971805)

And the horse can go longer than 24h without refuel if you really had to.

Only if you have one of these [slashdot.org] ...

Re:Do you ever wonder... (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | more than 2 years ago | (#38971845)

And the horse can go longer than 24h without refuel if you really had to.

Only if you have one of these [slashdot.org] ...

Oh, sorry..should have been: Only if you have one of these [tvtropes.org] ...

Re:Do you ever wonder... (1)

sneakyimp (1161443) | more than 2 years ago | (#38971647)

How are we ever supposed to produce skynet and the terminators if we go back to horses? Come on!

Also, there's a moral issue with conscripting innocent animals into a war role. Apparently there's no such moral issue with using machines to kill people.

Re:Do you ever wonder... (1)

imgumbydamnit (730663) | more than 2 years ago | (#38971797)

Also, there's a moral issue with conscripting innocent animals into a war role. Apparently there's no such moral issue with using machines to kill people.

Yet dogs are in common use.

Re:Do you ever wonder... (1)

sneakyimp (1161443) | more than 2 years ago | (#38972087)

And dolphins and seals and marines.

Re:Do you ever wonder... (1)

Baloroth (2370816) | more than 2 years ago | (#38971687)

Horses can't carry quite as much (especially not with armor), can't really navigate autonomously, and don't generally come with recharger plugs for equipment. Plus, the end game is to strap guns to these things and cut out a lot of the human element altogether.

Re:Do you ever wonder... (1)

hrvatska (790627) | more than 2 years ago | (#38971939)

Plus, the end game is to strap guns to these things and cut out a lot of the human element altogether.

One of my first thoughts when I saw the video was a ground based drone.

Re:Do you ever wonder... (3, Insightful)

hrvatska (790627) | more than 2 years ago | (#38971723)

When not in use pack animals still need to be cared for. That means feeding and watering, cleaning the area they're stabled in, and veterinary care. I assume when these robots aren't in use they just need to be stored in an appropriate container. My guess is that it would be easier to get one of these robots into a remote area by air than a pack animal. And if a leg goes bad on one of these robots only the leg needs to be replaced. If a leg goes bad on a pack animal it probably needs to be put down, and then you have to bring in a whole new pack animal.

Re:Do you ever wonder... (1)

jklovanc (1603149) | more than 2 years ago | (#38971783)

I thought about that too but then realized that you can not put a mule in a crate, take it out a month later and expect it to perform. Animals take a lot more maintenance than machines and they do not transport well on unpressurized aircraft.

Re:Do you ever wonder... (2)

Leuf (918654) | more than 2 years ago | (#38972335)

Why would you ever not want to be at war for a whole month? What's needed is a genetically engineered horse or mule that is patented and requires genetically engineered food that is also patented (You wouldn't want the enemy to be able to just steal your $100k horse and be able to feed it with grass, would you?). Then the military will buy millions of them.

Re:Do you ever wonder... (1)

WiseWeasel (92224) | more than 2 years ago | (#38971785)

Not only cheaper and easier, but much more practical as well. They don't give away you position from a mile away (unless startled/attacked), and they refuel with grass and water, which are much easier to come by on a mission than gasoline. This looks like just about the biggest waste of money I've ever seen.

Re:Do you ever wonder... (1)

curvedinfinity (2546742) | more than 2 years ago | (#38971843)

R&D costs a lot, but mass producing a robot is quicker and less costly than mass producing & training animals. They also use different resources, so there is a strategic advantage in the ability to use which resources are most plentiful.

Re:Do you ever wonder... (1)

SomePgmr (2021234) | more than 2 years ago | (#38972149)

US forces do use pack mules in Afghanistan. Not sure about horses. I guess this could fill some part of that role, without the stubbornness. Though I'd imagine the robot is harder to keep alive over long distances.

http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-donkeys7-2009jul07,0,3448109.story [latimes.com]

"It's a very primitive way to carry very modern weapons," said Sgt. Joe Neal, one of the instructors. "But it works."

Re:Do you ever wonder... (1)

knarf (34928) | more than 2 years ago | (#38972265)

Horses? You'll be hard-pressed to find a more finicky, vulnerable and easily damaged animal than a horse. One mortar shell in close vicinity and your supplies are on their way to Dagestan. If the horse does not bolt, it will founder instead, or eat something it shouldn't, or walk straight into something sharp, or break one of those matchstick legs, or... or... or... Better to carry the pack yourself.

Horses are not made for war. Neither are humans, but we happen to be so dumb as to go looking for it voluntarily - mostly. A horse would not do this if it were given a choice. I'd say let's respect the animal's choice, and therewith keep our own sanity.

Re:Do you ever wonder... (2)

garyebickford (222422) | more than 2 years ago | (#38972459)

An old friend said, "Horses have two purposes in life, to eat and get away." I added, "and one more thing every few weeks if there are any mares around ..."

I hereby dub it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38971431)

The Leslie.

Bonus points if the thing can kneel, in which case I'd call it the Leslie Kneelson.

Re:I hereby dub it (1)

fyngyrz (762201) | more than 2 years ago | (#38971641)

If that thing couldn't hunker down just about flat, it wouldn't last more than about ten seconds on the battlefield.

Will it fetch? (2)

Megahard (1053072) | more than 2 years ago | (#38971449)

If you toss barrels with a gravity gun?

Charge of the Robo Brigade (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38971469)

Now to mount these [youtube.com] on those.

Robot cavalry, chaaaaarge!

Reactor online. (4, Funny)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#38971485)

Sensors online.
Weapons online.
All systems nominal.
Initiating silly walk.

Re:Reactor online. (1)

eternaldoctorwho (2563923) | more than 2 years ago | (#38972067)

Checklist complete. ...S.O.B.

Re:Reactor online. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38972209)

http://24.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_ly27zmuDU91qfjjglo1_500.gif

Re:Reactor online. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38972567)

I did a double-take when I saw the blue LEDs in its undercarriage.

BTW, it seems the Chinese have already copied the design:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VXJZVZFRFJc

Woot! (2)

isotope23 (210590) | more than 2 years ago | (#38971521)

congratulations, you've almost re-invented the HORSE!

Re:Woot! (1)

Kozz (7764) | more than 2 years ago | (#38971675)

Exactly what I was thinking... but then again, BiggerDog is so much better, because its manufacture would employ hundreds, which is good, because when one is destroyed on the battlefield, replacement cost is likely in the six-figure range. How else would we prop up the military industrial complex?

Re:Woot! (1)

Amtrak (2430376) | more than 2 years ago | (#38972175)

You're assuming that a well breed Military horse after training doesn't cost six-figures. While I'm not an expert, I'm guessing the cost of raising a horse from birth and training it to serve as a military pack animal would cost close to the robot and would have the added bonus of not being able to be crated and stored after its mission is completed and would be harder to replace if shot as they can't be built on an assembly line.

amazing and scary (1)

lorinc (2470890) | more than 2 years ago | (#38971525)

These news are always amazing and at the same time a bit scary. Or is it only just me?

No Thanks (1)

da007 (242994) | more than 2 years ago | (#38971527)

I prefer my robot overlords with wheels. It lets me know where I stand with them.

But how well does it do (1)

nani popoki (594111) | more than 2 years ago | (#38971535)

chasing autonomous cars? Or robot cats?

How's it going to hear commands? (1)

Zaiff Urgulbunger (591514) | more than 2 years ago | (#38971565)

...listen to voice commands ...

And in the real world
BigBigDog: Rararararararararararararrr
Marine: Go over there
BigBigDog: Rararararararararararararrr
Marine: BigDog! Go over there
BigBigDog: Rararararararararararararrr
Marine: F*k it.
Marine goes and carries BigDog to desired location.

They definitely need a quieter version otherwise it's just not going to work!

Mandatory Feature (4, Funny)

paleo2002 (1079697) | more than 2 years ago | (#38971571)

Please PLEASE have the things say, in a deep electronic voice, "Woof. Woof. Woof. Woof." while walking. If they do that, I will buy all of them immediately.

Re:Mandatory Feature (1)

imgumbydamnit (730663) | more than 2 years ago | (#38971849)

Please PLEASE have the things say, in a deep electronic voice, "Woof. Woof. Woof. Woof." while walking. If they do that, I will buy all of them immediately.

Hello, my name is Rags.

Nice MULE (1)

Pluvius (734915) | more than 2 years ago | (#38971585)

Now we just need to discover Smithore and we'll be all set to go to planet Irata.

Rob

Re:Nice MULE (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38971893)

Must me time to hunt the Wumpus!

Re:Nice MULE (1)

Thud457 (234763) | more than 2 years ago | (#38972469)

I seem to recall M.U.L.E.s [ozarksoftscape.com] were unreliable -- they had a tendency to run off after lightning storms.

Why not a real horse? (1)

DanielRavenNest (107550) | more than 2 years ago | (#38971593)

Real horses are quieter, self-fueling, self-reproducing, and a lot cheaper. I fail to see the advantage of this robot version. And before someone says you can kill horses with a bullet, if you put a bullet through the sensors or generator of this robot, it's not going anywhere either.

Re:Why not a real horse? (2)

lorinc (2470890) | more than 2 years ago | (#38971625)

Unfortunately, horses may exhibit terror behavior and run totally amok.

Re:Why not a real horse? (1)

Pokermike (896718) | more than 2 years ago | (#38971923)

And robots never run amok.

Re:Why not a real horse? (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 2 years ago | (#38971953)

The past few thousand years of Warfare seem to be able to breed and train Horses who keep their cool much better then their solders do.

Re:Why not a real horse? (1)

jfengel (409917) | more than 2 years ago | (#38971793)

Ever work with real horses? They require a lot of training, they're skittish, and they're fragile. Horse people say they're born looking for a way to die. They're not as self-feeding in the desert, and require epic amounts of water.

You'd be better off with a mule or camel, creatures not known for friendliness. You need highly skilled operators. And they require care every day. They don't shut off.

Re:Why not a real horse? (1)

Whorhay (1319089) | more than 2 years ago | (#38972347)

On the positive side, pack animals can be delicous!

Re:Why not a real horse? (1)

Rostin (691447) | more than 2 years ago | (#38971803)

I wouldn't be so quick to assume that horses are "a lot" cheaper, especially long term. They continue to self-fuel (and require frequent maintenance) even when not in use.

Re:Why not a real horse? (1)

hrvatska (790627) | more than 2 years ago | (#38971869)

Think about the amount of care pack animals requires on a day to day basis and you'll start to see the advantage of a robot like this. It's not like there's nice pasture and clean water available where ever there's a need for something like this.

Weapon systems don't need fire control (2)

gurps_npc (621217) | more than 2 years ago | (#38971629)

That is, weld an M134 minigun on it, and have it carry just the gun and the ammo.

Then put a soldier behind it and let him fire the weapon. You get the certainity of a human presence & control, the high firepower and ammo capacity of the M134, all on the ground, capable of close quarters urban combat in buildings. (Not to mention that it would probably deafen everyone within 50 ft.)

Re:Weapon systems don't need fire control (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38972753)

shoot, why not just do this then?
http://i6.photobucket.com/albums/y201/Chosis/cryingwolf.png

Aren't there already proven solutions? (1, Redundant)

guanxi (216397) | more than 2 years ago | (#38971699)

Why not use one of several existing cheap, proven bio-mechanical, intelligent solutions with long [wikipedia.org] track [wikipedia.org] records [wikipedia.org] ?

Re:Aren't there already proven solutions? (1)

RichMan (8097) | more than 2 years ago | (#38971801)

Those get spooked by loud noises, and are subject to SPCA and other organization complaints.
bigdog does not spook, and can be abandoned in theatre if damaged.

Also I wait the landborne armed drone implementation, aka ED-209

Eerie (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38971713)

It walks like a submissive dog. Yuck!

In other news.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38971809)

Cow tippers recruited by Al Qeida

No Element of Surprise here (1)

icebike (68054) | more than 2 years ago | (#38971855)

With a 400 pound payload, this machine can carry (maybe) the full combat gear load of four soldiers, or more practically half the load for 8.

Global Security documents that the average rifleman's combat load is 91 pounds [globalsecurity.org] . Some of this is going to stay with the soldier. Remote special forces units packs will be much higher, as they must be more self sufficient. Combat pack weight is almost directly determined by the capability of (and the soldiers confidence in) the supply train.

If you have the luxury of going in with full air support and helicopter resupply you don't need heavy packs, but you aren't going to surprise anyone either. This walker device wouldn't be needed where you have helicopter support. Where you do need this device is where you may not want it, such as rough terrain missions, with small numbers of soldiers, trying to be reasonably stealthy.

An couple of chain saw motors coming thru the outback is going to be easy to hear. In the woods you can easily hear a chainsaw two to five miles away. Having one right next to you means you can't hear anything else. Not the breaking twig, not the thump of a distant mortar tube, probably not even bullets smacking the trees right next to you.

So unless they can do something about the noise this seems to me to be a re-supply tool for use in already controlled rugged areas rather than something that accompanies combat troops. But if you already control the area, just use a chopper. Even if you do quiet the engine, I suspect this thing is less than stealthy.
And left unsaid is the weight of the second day's fuel.

The use case seems vanishingly small in its current state.

Horse of a different material (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38971889)

I wonder if just using 5 or 6 horses wouldn't be better. It'd certainly be cheaper.

Horses/Calvary (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 2 years ago | (#38971935)

Yea it is cool... However you will probably get more bang for your buck with Horses... They do the same thing that the robot does but better and quieter. They have been tested valuable in warfare in the past.

The only advantage I see with the robot is you can turn it off for week or months without much maintenance.

Not only reaches the "Uncanny Valley"... (2)

kaizendojo (956951) | more than 2 years ago | (#38971951)

but can also transverse it!

Anyone want a ride? (2)

gentryx (759438) | more than 2 years ago | (#38971959)

BigDog may look like a dog, but LS3 looks like a horse. Imagine how great this could be: every soldier gets his own LS3 to ride on. With these they could go effortlessly anywhere, even when no roads are available. Just like in medieval times...

Ia! Shub Niggurath! Black Goat of the Woods! (1)

JoshDM (741866) | more than 2 years ago | (#38971967)

With a thousand young! Ia!

Its different from other military contracts.. (1)

orphiuchus (1146483) | more than 2 years ago | (#38972019)

...in that its super expensive and basically useless on the ground...

No, wait, its the same.

Looks like an intermediate prototype (5, Interesting)

Animats (122034) | more than 2 years ago | (#38972109)

This looks like an intermediate prototype of the LS3. The specs call for a quieter power plant, which has to run on standard military diesel fuel. There's a subcontractor working on that. Clearly, that hasn't been integrated yet.

The LS3 is supposed to be about the same size as BigDog, but with with much stronger legs. That's clearly what's being tested here. BigDog wasn't strong enough to get up from the ground, while the video here shows this machine getting up. It took a lot of custom hydraulics to do that, which is why Boston Dynamics teamed with a hydraulics company.

Also, the sensor suite is much more elaborate, indicating that the autonomy level is being increased. BigDog handled balance and locomotion, but was guided by a human with a remote.

What we're seeing here is that some of the hard problems have been solved. Now the design will presumably be cleaned up for production.

Legs are cool and all ... (2)

LoudMusic (199347) | more than 2 years ago | (#38972329)

Legs are cool and all, Star Wars, but it seems a properly designed tracked unit would be much more efficient and able to carry significantly more load.

Too Loud (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38972359)

I know nothing about the in-country, on patrol lives of our troops. I tend to think though that some amount of stealth would be useful. I can't imagine a squad moving in a deliberate, quiet fashion whil being followed around by what sounds like four chain-saws on full throttle.

Next, does it carry 400lb in addition to the fuel load? What is the active, loaded range before you have to take it back for kibble and a nap?

Creepy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38972477)

Man that is just soooo creepy!

Voice commands? (1)

angiasaa (758006) | more than 2 years ago | (#38972575)

So that the Enemy just needs to walk up to the LS3 and shout "Follow ME!" to commandeer our units supplies?

That's how we fight future wars? Wow!

Voice commands... (1)

roc97007 (608802) | more than 2 years ago | (#38972801)

So, someone pops out of the bushes and shouts "Return home!"

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