This year, the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) will spend nearly $3 billion to develop new military technologies. A huge chunk of that money will go to automation tech, including some absolutely incredible robot warriors.
Building the BigDog
Boston Dynamic’s BigDog, seen here, is arguably the most infamous DARPA robot. The 3-foot-long (92 centimeters), 2.5-foot-tall (76 cm) robot animal was designed to traverse challenging terrain while carrying a 340-pound load (154 kg).
While BigDog was able to cross snowy hills, rubble, coastal terrain and more with skill, the project was discontinued in December 2015 when it was ruled too noisy to use in combat.
LS3: A bigger, better sequel
This is the LS3, Boston Dynamic’s successor to the BigDog. It’s something of a robotic pack mule, designed to operate through human voice command. It can follow a soldier while carrying up to 400 pounds (180 kg) of equipment.
LS3 prototypes can run as fast as 7 miles per hour (11 km/hr) on flat surfaces, or between 1 and 3 miles per hour on rough terrain (2-5 km). It’s also capable of righting itself without human assistance.
The LS3, up close
Despite investing $42 million in developing the LS3, the US Marine Corp decided to shelve the project at the end of 2015 because, like the BigDog, the LS3 was just too noisy.
“They took it as it was,” Marine Corps Warfighting Lab spokesperson Kyle Olsen told military.com. “A loud robot that’s going to give away their position.”