Boston Dynamics Wins Darpa Contract To Develop LS3 Robot Mule (It's a Bigger BigDog)

boston dynamics ls3

A bigger BigDog is coming.

Boston Dynamics, developer of BigDog and PETMAN, announced today that it has won a Darpa contract to develop a new robot mule to help soldiers on foot carry gear in the field.

The robot, called Legged Squad Support System, or LS3, will be able to navigate rough terrain, carrying 180 kilograms (~400 pounds) of load and enough fuel for missions covering 32 kilometers (~20 miles) and lasting 24 hours.

Boston Dynamics says LS3 won't need a driver, because it will automatically follow a human leader using computer vision or travel to designated locations using sensors and GPS.

Breeding, er, building the robot will take 30 months and cost US $32 million. The first LS3 prototype is expected to debut in 2012.

"If LS3 can offload 50 lbs [23 kg] from the back of each solider in a squad, it will reduce warfighter injuries and fatigue and increase the combat effectiveness of our troops," Marc Raibert, president of Boston Dynamics and principal investigator for the program, said in a statement.

The company, based in Waltham, Mass., is teaming up with the likes of Bell Helicopter, Carnegie Mellon, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, among others, to develop LS3.

The LS3 follows on the footsteps of BigDog, and Raibert expects the new robot to make "a major leap forward." We can't wait for the videos.

Illustration: Boston Dynamics

Advertisement

Automaton

IEEE Spectrum's award-winning robotics blog, featuring news, articles, and videos on robots, humanoids, automation, artificial intelligence, and more.
Contact us:  e.guizzo@ieee.org

Editor
Erico Guizzo
New York, N.Y.
Senior Writer
Evan Ackerman
Berkeley, Calif.
 
Contributor
Jason Falconer
Canada
Contributor
Angelica Lim
Tokyo, Japan
 

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up for the Automaton newsletter and get biweekly updates about robotics, automation, and AI, all delivered directly to your inbox.

Advertisement