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Video: The Latest, Terrifying Drone Dog

by John Reed on February 8, 2012

Remember DARPA’s BigDog? You know, the terrifying, four-legged robot that won’t fall over when kicked or when walking on ice and snow. Well, DARPA and Boston Dynamics (the guys who are also working on this) are testing an upgraded version of the dog that will carry 400 pounds of gear for more than 20 miles without a refueling.

The latest version of the robot, called the Legged Squad Support System (LS3), will use “vision sensors” to lock onto dismounted soldiers and follow them in the field (like a loyal puppy, too bad it reminds me of the Terminator) and autonomously navigate around obstacles in its path. Heck, the damned thing is even expected to respond to soldiers’ voice commands, like “come”, “stop” and “sit.” Oh and if that’s not enough, it will serve as a walking battery charger for troops’ electronics.

I will say one thing, it’s going to have to get a lot quieter to accompany some infantry patrols.

Read what DARPA has to say about its new toy and then click through the jump to watch a video of the LS3:

Recently the LS3 prototype underwent its first outdoor exercise, demonstrating the ability to follow a person using its “eyes”—sensors that allow the robot to distinguish between trees, rocks, terrain obstacles and people. Over the course of the next 18 months, DARPA plans to complete development of and refine key capabilities to ensure LS3 is able to support dismounted squads of warfighters.

Features to be tested and validated include the ability to carry 400lbs on a 20-mile trek in 24-hours without being refueled, and refinement of LS3’s vision sensors to track a specific individual or object, observe obstacles in its path and to autonomously make course corrections as needed. Also planned is the addition of “hearing” technology, enabling squad members to speak commands to LS3 such as “stop,” “sit” or “come here.” The robot also serves as a mobile auxiliary power source— troops may recharge batteries for radios and handheld devices while on patrol.

DARPA seeks to demonstrate that an LS3 can carry a considerable load from dismounted squad members, follow them through rugged terrain and interact with them in a natural way, similar to the way a trained animal and its handler interact.

“If successful, this could provide real value to a squad while addressing the military’s concern for unburdening troops,” said Army Lt. Col. Joe Hitt, DARPA program manager. “LS3 seeks to have the responsiveness of a trained animal and the carrying capacity of a mule.”

The 18-month platform-refinement test cycle, with Marine and Army involvement, kicks off this summer.  The tests culminate in a planned capstone exercise where LS3 will embed with Marines conducting field exercises.

LS3 is based on mobility technology advanced by DARPA’s Big Dog technology demonstrator, as well other DARPA robotics programs which developed the perception technology for LS3’s “eyes” and planned “ears.”

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{ 115 comments… read them below or add one }

Taggert February 8, 2012 at 5:18 pm

I'd think the noise of the engines would be a problem for foot patrols as well as the voice commands.

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bbb February 9, 2012 at 11:20 am

Well its a prototype, I'm sure that when they get the general mechanics down they'll start focusing on noise reduction and mounting points for equipment.

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tardiz February 10, 2012 at 10:56 am

If graphene muscles (just google it) live up to promise this thing will be silent and completely electric in a generation or two.

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@ThinkingWeasel February 12, 2012 at 12:21 pm

This thing is ignorant, no practicality at this stage. However, I could see a stripped down stealth version for recon or maybe even take-downs. If DARPA is letting us see this, imagine what they arent showing us

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Evan Padgham February 12, 2012 at 1:48 pm

deffinetly the noice is a HUGE problem. if you can make it quieter and the voice and video feed really good then i like it. still like the rc cars with the video and mics on them better though

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phugas68 February 12, 2012 at 5:09 pm

In a quiet forest, or desert, we use all of our senses including smell, I hope it comes with deodorant as well as heavy duty mufflers. This thing may be so noisy because they can't generate enough power to carry the pay load when they muffle the engines.

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DARKSIDIUS February 8, 2012 at 6:05 pm

Put a mini gun on this, and you have a terifying robot great job Darpa

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Thinking_ExUSAF February 9, 2012 at 10:05 am

I have heard that your approach has already been tried (on a different platform) and deployed to Afghanistan. Rumor has it that with the first autonomous stream of tracers fired over the command bunker (or some similar incident), the infernal machine was switched to the "OFF" operating mode. LOL!

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Michael February 12, 2012 at 8:00 pm

but then you have to compensate for the miniguns' weight and will majorly effect the performance, but that would be a horrific nightmare for our enemies!

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Skyepapa February 8, 2012 at 6:29 pm

It seems like a mule might be the best replacement for a mule — I know need for feed and water require additional logistic and manpower channels, but doesn't that balance the likely incredible cost of these toys and the noise mentioned by Taggert above? The great thing about real animals is that they can forage for fuel (in many environments) and extend their range on the fly. Can this thing graze for fuel? I also know animals get spooked in firefights battle environment, but still… Can someone please explain what this thing's competitive primary (considering both lifetime costs and survivability) competitive advantage is over flesh and blood pack animals?

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blight February 8, 2012 at 5:49 pm

tbh, is there fodder to graze in Afghanistan or Pakistan? Granted, mules might work better in the high mountains of Hindu Kush, but animals might panic if the helicopter they are transported in takes small arms fire.

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joe February 9, 2012 at 7:28 am

Given the trains of pack mules you see carrying Mujahideen weapons in photos from the Soviet Afghan invasion, yes. I'm sure they can be trained, too.

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blight February 9, 2012 at 9:54 am

Depends on where in Afghanistan, I guess. The Panjshir Valley IIRC has sufficient fodder for grazing, and it /looks/ like Helmand as well. But places like Herat or higher up in Hindu Kush? Probably had to bring fodder from Pakistan…

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Thinking_ExUSAF February 9, 2012 at 10:03 am

And a mule might have the sense to get out of the line of fire! LOL! Imagine a foot patrol either setting up an ambush or being ambushed. As the soldiers to go ground, the "dog" walks over and stares at the now immoble soldiers like a big red flag saying "shoot me". LOL!

This "dog" had better be taught the lessons of self preservation that real dogs (and mules) have learned over millions of years of evolution, and have those "lessons" fine tuned to the tactical battlefield. Otherwise, even if I could recharge my iPod from it, I think that I would want it as far from me as possible in any sort of tactical situation! LOL!

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MattR February 10, 2012 at 4:11 pm

1) Mules need handlers, which ties up 1 warfighter with mule-sitting duty. 2) Mules can bolt, refuse to budge and generally behave randomly. 3) 1 bullet or piece of shrapnel ANYWHERE, and your pack animal is either dead or escaped.

Not saying this is a perfect solution (lots still left to fix0, but – if done right – it would be far better than a flesh-and-blood pack animal

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Dr. Grzlickson February 8, 2012 at 8:07 pm

This should accompany our snipers and other stealthy troops.

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blight February 8, 2012 at 9:09 pm

These are far from stealthy. Besides, stealthy troops survive by fighting light?

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Jeff February 9, 2012 at 6:03 am

I think he was being sarcastic.

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blight February 9, 2012 at 9:52 am

You never know.

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Infidel4LIFE February 9, 2012 at 1:15 pm

Yes! Take em on snatch raids too, hell its a dog right?? Funny as hell..

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Anonymous February 13, 2012 at 10:00 am

obvious troll is obvious

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Zeyn February 8, 2012 at 8:15 pm

wow, we are wasting a bunch of money on this?
why do we just use a mules? they carry 400 pounds,fast,very good coordination, CHEAP, use food instead of electricity, no malfunctions and they dont panic.

it seems to me DARPA just wants to look important by spending money on immature technology.

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TMB February 8, 2012 at 9:51 pm

I appreciate your sentiment regarding this vehicle, but spending money on emerging technologies is actually DARPA's purpose in life.

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Bill February 8, 2012 at 10:40 pm

DARPA is the "Because we can" part of our defense spending – I only want to see a mule if it is part half-track and part mule.

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Thomas L. Nielsen February 9, 2012 at 1:58 am

"I only want to see a mule if it is part half-track and part mule".

Cyborg mules. We're so screwed….

Regards & all

Thomas L. Nielsen
Luxembourg

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Dave M February 8, 2012 at 11:36 pm

Exactly. This is new technology, it may not look like much now, but at some point in the future this thing might be able to sprint faster than a horse, carry triple the weight, have a weapon, and be remote controlled.

But we'll never get there unless we try out new things.

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Thinking_ExUSAF February 9, 2012 at 10:09 am

An important part of the DARPA mission is in fact to "mature" technologies to the point where an R&D program can blend into an acquisition and deployment program, but an equally important part is the identify the technologies that just dont make sense. Perhaps this is one of those where the second option applies!

Mules, like hammers, have been supplying a basic function, competantly and with little room for improvement, for thousands of years. If I say that this technology supplies a more competant service than a mule, I think that it should come under the heading of "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proofs!". Bring on the proof! :-)

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Uncle Bill February 9, 2012 at 3:48 pm

And the hammer has never been improved on, like say with a nail gun.

Happy Luddite Day!

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Thinking_ExUSAF February 9, 2012 at 9:06 pm

And a happy Luddite Day to you as well!

A nail gun drives a nail more quickly and consistently than a hammer, saving time and increasing "quality". Thanks to the saved man-hours of fairly expensive labor, a nail gun will rapidly pay for itself. When this mechanical marvel ends up consistently operating cheaper than the mule (mk1 mod0 version) to the point that it can amortize the considerable difference in acquisition cost, I will gladly accept the extraordinary proof.

'Till then I will proudly wear your label as a Luddite! :-) And even then, I will always wonder about who cooked the books on the expenses!

justin February 9, 2012 at 7:40 am

This is only stage 1. By stage 10 it is 40m tall armed with lasers and taking out Rebel Shield Generators.

I know its Star Wars but come on, we're all thinking it.

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tiger February 9, 2012 at 9:32 am

"These are not the drones you were looking for"….

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@ThinkingWeasel February 12, 2012 at 12:24 pm

F**K Yeah!

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Guest A February 9, 2012 at 7:57 am

This thing could grow up to be an AT-AT one day…

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tiger February 9, 2012 at 9:37 am

I'm sure folks at Pfizer Pharma said, "Shouldn't we be curring HIV instead of making Viagra???"

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blight February 9, 2012 at 9:47 am

Easier said than done. Viagra was meant to treat a heart condition (which is why it targets arterial wall contraction). However, it happened to have differential effects on certain arteries more than others. There's a reason it comes with heart condition warnings…

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blight February 9, 2012 at 11:01 am

And as for AIDS:

Once it's proliferating in your T-cells, you're screwed. The best you can do is hold the viral load down, and the lower the load the less clinically apparent it will become (eg, your HIV infection does not lead to AIDS).

HIV, like other retroviruses has a fair degree of mutability, so epitope-targeting vaccines don't do so well. However, pharma compounds targeting viral integrases and proteases when combined together do very well in shutting down HIV's ability to replicate and invade new cells. Good enough for now.

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yaynumbers February 9, 2012 at 2:35 pm

For perspective, DARPA spent money on an robotic elephant during the Vietnam war, because elephants were decent jungle-busters and carried heavy loads.

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ADR February 8, 2012 at 8:32 pm

What a complete waste of money. They use _real_ animals for things like this all over the world, in spots that are _definitely_ more harrowing than the forests of …whever that is in the video.. Virginia?

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Jacob February 8, 2012 at 8:50 pm

I can't help but think that the drone dog will be the slowest and least mobile component of an infantry squad.

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nraddin February 10, 2012 at 2:15 pm

I can't speak for this model but the bigdog had a running speed just above 4mph. That's no Olympic record or anything but it's faster than most people walk.

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Uncle Bill February 8, 2012 at 9:47 pm

I think that once this dog gets it's final paws fitted and it's insulated, camo fur in place, as well as a better muffler, it will be a fairly stealthy beast. And like some hybrid cars, it might shut off it's engine when not moving, perhaps to listen. And while a human might beat it up the hill today, the next version will be faster and more nimble and humans will be the same. One problem in the future may be keeping ground pounders from riding it..

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Doc61 February 9, 2012 at 3:19 am

After 30 days in the field, it probably would look good…….

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Dan February 9, 2012 at 7:18 am

One RPG and that thing and all the gear it carries is toast. Let's be honest, those will cost a pretty penny. If you use living animals however then they're cheap and a lot more expendable.

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joe February 9, 2012 at 7:30 am

Unfortunately, the animal rights lot may not agree with you.

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Guest A February 9, 2012 at 8:33 am

I would think it would be a lot bigger mess if if an RPG hit a live animal. Plus this thing could probably take some small arms fire and keep moving.

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Guest February 10, 2012 at 2:11 pm

One RPG to anything and you can expect it to be toast..

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TMB February 12, 2012 at 4:26 pm

Of course an RPG is going to take out just about anything, but the underlying issue is that this vehicle becomes a single point of failure for that unit's supplies versus everyone taking their fair share on their backs.

nraddin February 10, 2012 at 2:18 pm

I 100% agree with you, they where not worried about noise it makes right now, just making it work. One problem at a time.This thing sounds to me like one of 2500w generators with a stock muffler on it. Change it out for a much larger unit (We use ones from small cars) and you cut the noise to way down.

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TMB February 8, 2012 at 9:52 pm

I keep looking at that photo and I swear there's a guy sitting in front with his legs sticking out.

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TTe February 9, 2012 at 12:46 pm

Any guy walking with his legs in that sitting position can't haul 400/2 pounds load along 20 miles. Can't help thinking that way too.

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asdfjkl; February 8, 2012 at 10:19 pm

seems legit

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Lance February 9, 2012 at 12:12 am

Interesting

The BIG question when do they make the ATAT walker from Star wars for the Army? LOL (Joke)

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@Olternaut February 9, 2012 at 1:11 am

I'm not laughing. That's actually a good idea. actually no….not the AT-AT. That was just a piloted armored personnel carrier. I want to see an ED-209 type of heavily armed bipedal attack droid.

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Lightbringer February 9, 2012 at 5:56 am

It doesn't need to be bipedal, really. As long as it can go the same places as a human, and kill enemy troops when it gets there, it can be any shape it wants. I suspect that this transport version will be a tech testbed for later generations that'll be armed…

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justin February 9, 2012 at 7:43 am

Or just the fear factor for some Jihadies with an RPG rounding a corner and finding a 2 story tall Big Dog armed and armored.

maybe for psych-war purposes, fix a loud speaker that blasts the imperial march.

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crackedlenses February 9, 2012 at 11:20 am

The Irish have bag-pipes; we have loudspeakers with movie soundtrack…..

tiger February 9, 2012 at 9:30 am

Next step, Gundam mobile suits…

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fewrwrw February 9, 2012 at 1:04 am

I don't see a mouth, how are you gonna play frisby with it?

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Dumb Grunt February 9, 2012 at 1:48 am

It looks ok on solid ground, but how does it do in deep soft mud or in a swamp ???
That noise is not good at all.

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Oudin February 9, 2012 at 2:14 am

I think Leg squad support system will be stealthy equiepment, did not make noise.

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Doc61 February 9, 2012 at 3:15 am

Big, Strong and follows simple commands? Put 'im on a 60!

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pedestrian February 9, 2012 at 4:26 am

Operator: Sh*t!
Big Dog: Command affirmative, now in sit mode. Next command please.

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Lightbringer February 9, 2012 at 5:35 am

Seems to me that these things shouldn't be FOLLOWING an infantry patrol…they should be about 200 feet up front, setting off any IEDs along the line of advance. So a dual purpose for them: carrying gear and protecting the squad from booby traps.

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joe February 9, 2012 at 7:31 am

BANG!

"Yay! it set off an IED. Call it in to base."
"..Err…sarge?"
"What?"
"I put the radio pack on it."

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guest February 10, 2012 at 2:14 pm

Haha..exactly. i like where your head is at but that wouldnt fly lightbringer

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Jeff February 9, 2012 at 6:05 am

The problem with this or anything that reduces weight or lightens the load of the soldiers is that his Sgt.'s immediate response… "Great! Now we can carry 400lbs more ammo!"

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TMB February 9, 2012 at 6:32 pm

Exactly. The Army has done pretty well with lightening a soldier's load over the last few years, but every soldier either ends up voluntarily packing more gear or he just gets fielded new toys he's ordered to haul around.

A Marine infantry officer and I were discussing this a couple years ago. His first thought was "great, how often do I need to fuel it and where am I going to get that fuel?" Another big concern of his was he'd end up worrying more about all their gear in one central vulnerable location rather than the mission. If someone in his position has to keep looking over his shoulder to make sure his robot didn't break down, get lost, or give away his position, then its not doing him any good.

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Jay February 9, 2012 at 8:50 am

The point of DARPA is to develope technology like this so that they can provide it to better companies that can improve the design. Yes it may seem like a waste of money now but the robotics research done here will be improved. DARPA is used to make technologies available for companies to grab it off the shelf and see how to make it better. This specific technology is way ahead of its time and won't be used for a while. You can't take a tracked vehicle or wheeled vehicle into jagged rocks on the hills of Afganistan or a country like it. This is a good idea, its just not there yet.

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anonymous February 9, 2012 at 9:29 am

^ This X2

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CW3 Wentling February 9, 2012 at 9:35 am

Sounds like a chain saw.

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Jeff February 9, 2012 at 12:33 pm

This is still just the LS3 prototype. It isn't until the LS4 and LS5 prototypes that they'll focus on bringing down the noise. Its currently just built for robustness and to give them a testbed to fine tune the programming.

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rod lewis February 9, 2012 at 9:59 am

too much noise way to big. should be in a Ghillie suit.

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James February 9, 2012 at 11:18 am

If our nation's enemies are afraid of leaf blowers, I think we found the ultimate weapon. High fives DARPA!

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Mark February 9, 2012 at 11:56 am

20 miles in 24 hours? This is horrible. On road marches we carry over one hundred pounds thirty two miles in five and a half hours to include two fifteen minute stops and one thirty minute stop. It would never stay up with a loaded down soldier. You'd have to have delayed needed equipment unloaded from the soldier to the dog and a fallout contingient (group of soldiers) to stay with the slow dog. So now the question would be what gear is delayable for the over all length of the move?

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tiger February 9, 2012 at 12:01 pm

Since the bad guys have no fancy DARPA to make robots, How do the Taliban move suppiles??? They have no trains, boats or planes and the roads are few??

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Mark February 9, 2012 at 3:28 pm

They didn't for the most part. They lived nearby.

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Infidel4LIFE February 9, 2012 at 1:12 pm

There is no replacing a mule with a robot. Nice try DARPA, but its not practical. The Army has used mules in the past and uses them now. They carry a heavy load, and nothing compares to them when ur moving men and weapons and everything else.

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Bill2 February 9, 2012 at 2:54 pm

DARPA may have something here; obviously its still in development and has a ways to go but the concept and initial 'reality' looks very interesting..!

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anthony February 9, 2012 at 3:29 pm

I think {Mr. ED} is alot more fun looking at if he could run also and not so noisy.

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anthony February 9, 2012 at 3:31 pm

Id pack three donkeys and a cowboy over that,they wont make much niose and will do the job as they do now in afgan and earas around..

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Erwynn Cepada February 9, 2012 at 4:33 pm

it's so noisy… not good for stealth operation…

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Jeff February 9, 2012 at 4:42 pm

It's a development project. Any of you ever see the first computer – filled a room. Now your phone can do that job plus 100 more at the same time. Now that the programming for stability has been established, it's only a matter of time before it gets better, and smaller, and faster, and smarter, and quieter.

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Ross February 9, 2012 at 5:33 pm

never really liked these things..but then look at how tanks were at the start…

(i kno there's a difference between 'mules' and big ass tanks..but u get my drift..)

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TMB February 9, 2012 at 6:40 pm

The very first IFV was pretty much a go-kart with a .30 cal browning nailed to it.

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blight February 9, 2012 at 10:43 pm

Bren Universal Carrier?

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Chris February 9, 2012 at 8:42 pm

Why does this remind me of the robot dog "Rags" from Woody Allens' movie, "Sleeper"?

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Chris February 9, 2012 at 8:56 pm

Why does it remind me of the robot dog "Rags" from Woody Allens' movie "Sleeper"?

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Jim37F February 9, 2012 at 10:35 pm

Sounds just like an ATV carrying supplies lol

Besides its a prototype people, relax, its not like they're gonna ship 5000 of these things in that level of development to our guys this year.

And yeah, and RPG would wreck this thing, but a real live Mule, an ATV, heck even an M114/1151 wouldn't exactly be good to go after taking an RPG hit either

Plus for a mule, you gotta have a soldier caring for it at all times, making sure it doesn't run off during a firefight or whatever

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RCDC February 9, 2012 at 10:47 pm

The noise could wake up the terrorist…

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Grinch February 10, 2012 at 2:25 am

Wonder if it's bitten any anchorwomen in the face?

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sooperfly February 10, 2012 at 7:39 am

A waste of developmente dollars that will be getting scarce in the future. We'd be better off developing lighter materials and smarter weapons for our soldiers instead of wasting money on something else that we drag around in the field and then have to fix when it breaks.

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blight February 10, 2012 at 8:30 am

Another approach we may need to take towards resupply in the field is not just carrying everything you need, but to have it delivered JIT. Helicopters will definitely give away a field unit (as they did in Vietnam): but what about autonomous gliders? Programmed to deliver consumables like ammunition, batteries, water and foodstuffs to waypoints in lieu of a less-stealthy KMAX or legacy force resupply helicopter? Or reactive the Sherpa GPS-guided pallets, and create a communications link between troops on the field directly to a logistics resupply organization that can drop GPS-guided supply pallets with high accuracy for recovery.

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DaleU February 10, 2012 at 3:15 pm

This'll be great when it decides in the middle of a firefight to hump someones leg!

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nunyas February 12, 2012 at 12:13 pm

Watch him start pissing oil on the side of a humvee.

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majorleewild February 12, 2012 at 4:33 pm

Not to mention that it has been done in the past… Mule tase just like chicken when your in a fix for food…

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blight_ February 12, 2012 at 4:43 pm

We are unlikely to be in an emergency where we have to have expedient food supplies (eating animals). If we run out of food we're out of ammo. And if you're out of ammo…food is the least of your problems!

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DaDan February 13, 2012 at 6:23 am

Yup, infantry will definitely use this as a means of transportation when the boss isn't looking. Boots lead the way!!

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Technoweapon May 28, 2012 at 7:32 pm

We're seeing the introduction of walking technology. The next step in transportation technology and capability. Give this time to mature and grow.

With technology like this comes the possibility of walkers, or mechs. Science Fiction is slowly but surely coming into the world of reality.

If you're smirking and scoffing then imagine this…

The technology has matured. It's quiet. And with other technology implemented it has become an awesome and game changing invention that can/has spread into every Branch. The Navy can autonomously load/offload their ships in port at record shattering speeds, for instance.

Now go bigger. We've been able to create fighting vehicles that can walk, trot, even run. Capable of carrying large weapons and heavy armor. Suddenly the M1Abrams has been trumped by a three story tall armored behemoth of technological death.

I'm not blabbering about science fiction and nerdy wet dreams. You're seeing the introduction right there. Give it another 50 years.

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Eightcatshome August 17, 2013 at 11:34 am

You know that military tactics have become "neo-Napoleonic" in the sense of being able to line up all the cannon against a tactical point to blow that point away and then bayonet rush the empty defense across the carnage to flank the enemy there. So far, air power has served that purpose, esp. with Reaper type drones. The The brass are still sending bayonet charges (essentially) against blasted positions, and sometimes going "Ooops!". Arm the dogs and have a remote operator to work the weapon, as if it is a terrain using Reaper. The charge could be up steep terrain at 20 miles an hour. Noise is "good!" Top of the high spot overlooks enemy tactical retreat and terrain based drones don't have to leave.

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tiger February 9, 2012 at 9:28 am

LS3=Lassie? You have a future on "Mad Men" as a Advertising guy… Though as war dogs go, Rin tin tin I think was the real deal.

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blight February 9, 2012 at 9:48 am

Electric bikes would do better, but then there's that battery/charging issue…

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blight February 9, 2012 at 9:54 am

It wasn't a "mountain bike". They took a standard bike and upgraded the hardware until it could be used to carry 400 pounds of stuff…more wheelbarrow than bicycle by then.

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tiger February 9, 2012 at 11:44 am

Still makes more sense than this monster. In 1997, under a grant from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), Montague partnered with the US Marines to develop the Tactical Electric No Signature (TENS) Mountain Bike. For this project, Montague developed a new folding frame design called the X-Series™, integrating the F.I.T.™ system into the frame design. The non-electric version of the TENS Mountain Bike, named The Paratrooper®, became available shortly thereafter.

The F.I.T.™(Folding Integrated Technology) system was developed to allow a full-size, high-performance mountain bike to fold in half so that it could fit through the cargo door of a military aircraft with an airborne ranger. When the soldier would hit the ground, he or she would have a tactical mountain bike to use as transportation, thereby bridging the gap between walking and deploying heavy military vehicles. This would not only aid in transportation but it would help to facilitate battlefield reporting as well.

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tiger February 9, 2012 at 11:54 am

You mean Electric powered Dirt bikes or Bicycles with add on electric power?

I know they have folding solar panels for laptops. I guess if large enough, they could recharge a E Bike?It would make mobility easier & we can hang up the Robots.

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Jeff February 9, 2012 at 12:31 pm

You're obviously missing the whole point of what makes this program so far a success. The thing autonomously follows the soldiers, so their is no "guy who controls" it. Its designed to simply carry, follow, and maneuver across difficult terrain.

All your complaints about the robot are equally true about livestock and light vehicles. They're easily taken out. Unlike a light vehicle this can maneuver itself. Unlike the animal you don't have to worry about this panicking and running away.

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Riceball February 13, 2012 at 1:22 pm

On top of what everybody else has said you're also forgetting that this is just a prototype and far from the final product. My guess is that this platform, and its immediate successors, will function sort of like X Planes did for the Air Force and used to develop and test new theories and/or technologies that will eventually lead to a final product once the technology has sufficiently matured and all to most of the kinks in the system worked out.

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skyking607 February 9, 2012 at 1:47 pm

Wasn't there a flat-platformed utility vehicle in 'Nam? It was called a Mule and it was an M274 something. If that vehicle was brought back with todays technology, it would help a lot !

mc

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john February 9, 2012 at 2:21 pm

i agree, an ATV is quieter, faster, a hell of a lot cheaper and can carry people and gear and "we already have them" lol, if you want to carry more equipment instead of people just make it "unmanned" it seems we are always lookin for ways to spend more money when we should leave it up to the company that wants to develope such a beast to make it totally combat ready before assigning it to a hard working unit for testing !

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yaynumbers February 9, 2012 at 2:30 pm

If there's a key, they will leave it in LS3 until someone snaps the key off. Or it might be push button start. One way or another, it's just another item to be damaged.

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blight February 9, 2012 at 2:33 pm

Solar panels is still a pipe dream, especially for high capacity batteries. Even the custom solar cars have to be super-light and covered in solar panels and driven very judiciously just to break even or at slight energy penalty. The energy density in a drop of hydrocarbon fuel is incredible and hard to beat.

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yaynumbers February 9, 2012 at 2:34 pm

That said, it could go either way; with dirt bikes or bicycles. Bicycles are certainly lighter, but dirt bikes would be faster, on and off road.

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TMB February 9, 2012 at 6:21 pm

The German Army attacked a Russian island in 1917 with an amphibious assault which include an entire brigade of bicyclists. They got off their ships and rode to a key bridge crossing and cut off Russian reinforcements and escape.

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tiger February 9, 2012 at 7:55 pm

So did Japan in 1941 in the Singapore campaign. They quickly traveled down the Peninsula. Blown bridges that would stop trucks. The bikes could use fast built pontoon or wood bridges to clear obsticles. They also were not burdend by a lack of fuel depots.

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Riceball February 13, 2012 at 1:47 pm

Did you not read the article and the subsequent comments? This thing is not meant to be a production model nor is it something that's part of a contract for, it's just a prototype and a test bed. Right now they're only really concerned with making it work, once they have ti working the way they want it to then I'm certain they'll start to tackle the noise issue. Gotta crawl before you can walk and you gotta walk before you run.

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pastorvon February 13, 2012 at 7:11 pm

I did. & the author even had a similar comment. A soldier or marine can go to ground when necessary. I really doubt that this fido could do that even if it were a production model and it would last on the battle field about as long as it took to aim an RPG at it. Again, then, it might work for an LRRP even with the noise issue. I just cannot imagine any scenario where contact would be imminent that it would be a useful device. Its presence would be like waving a red flag and saying, "Here I am."

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